Voters forgetting Kailua’s accomplishments

Kailua Surfriders head coach Wally Marciel leads his team in celebrating  an upset over Kalaheo at an OIA boys basketball game last year. Krystle Marcellus/Star-Advertiser
Kailua Surfriders head coach Wally Marciel leads his team in celebrating an upset over Kalaheo at an OIA boys basketball game last year. Krystle Marcellus/Star-Advertiser

Here’s Monday’s Star-Advertiser boys basketball top 10, followed by my ballot. I’m not sold on the very young Leilehua Mules yet, and Kailua is vastly underrated here. The same team that beat then-No. 1 ‘Iolani and two mainland teams in the ‘Iolani Classic was mercilessly pulverized by voters because of last week’s loss to Kahuku.

Where’s the balance and perspective, panelists? Classic example of recency bias, a term I don’t like, but fits.

As for Lahainaluna, it’s not easy to argue against a 14-1 team at No. 5. But the Lunas’ most notable games have been a win over Division II St. Francis and a good Oregon team (David Douglas). Somehow, even with a very solid, tall and disciplined team, Lahainaluna has not played any other team in the Top 10. So, I don’t have the Lunas at No. 5 on my ballot. That could change later. But I need some S.O.S. (strength of schedule) to become a believer.

Star-Advertiser Top 10
Jan. 9, 2016
1. Kahuku (12) 156
2. ‘Iolani (4) 148
3. Punahou 121
4. Maryknoll 115
5. Lahainaluna 84
6. Kamehameha 76
7. St. Francis 54
8. Kalaheo 47
9. Leilehua 23
10. (tie) Kailua 14
10. (tie) Mid-Pacific 14
Others receiving votes: Kapolei 11, Saint Louis 10, Kaiser 5, McKinley 2.

Pupule’s ballot
For a little extra drizzle of fun, each team’s summary is followed by a sumo rank grade: Yokozuna (best/title favorites), Ozeki (strong contenders), Sekiwake (darkhorses/sleepers), Komusubi (good teams, but long shots), Maegashira (average/lowest rank).

1. Kahuku (14-3, 5-0 OIA East)
> Lopsided wins over Kalani (59-41) and Kalaheo (81-60). They have played like hungry lions regardless of ranking or opposition. The drop from ‘Iolani Classic foes — beating Mount Vernon, N.Y.; De La Salle (Calif.); Southwind (Tenn.) — to OIA East is sometimes dramatic. Holding down the fort is one thing, but can the Red Raiders continue to improve without consistently elite competition (re: ILH)? Kalani is a solid team, and Kalaheo is clearly Top 5, but the East as a whole won’t push Big Red the way they were pushed in preseason. How to avoid complacency?
Sumo rank: Yokozuna. Think Chiyonofuji: agile, powerful, athletic.

2. ‘Iolani (11-5, 2-0 ILH)
> Lulled Punahou into a slowdown pace and a 49-38 win. Drove up University Ave. and beat Mid-Pacific 53-39. Raiders center and returning all-state player of the year Hugh Hogland is more than an offensive threat. His wingspan, timing and hops make him one of the best defenders at the rim in state history.
Sumo rank: Yokozuna. Try the ever consistent Kitanoumi, 1970s.

3. Punahou (14-3, 1-1 ILH)
> 88-60 home win over Saint Louis. The loss to ‘Iolani was a fascinating look at how a slower pace by the Raiders was imposed on the Buffanblu, which I didn’t expect to this extent.
Sumo rank: Yokozuna. Akebono. Gifted athlete, athletic, poised, opportunistic.

4. Maryknoll (15-2, 2-0 ILH)
> Escaped with a 42-40 win at Mid-Pacific and a 55-53 home victory over Kamehameha. The Spartans aren’t dominating everyone, just figuring out how to win the close ones.
Sumo rank: Yokozuna. Try Musashimaru. Sturdy, agile, won more tournaments (12) than Akebono (11).

5. Kalaheo (7-8, 3-2 OIA East)
> Everyone’s (fairly) healthy again, which helped with a 58-35 rout of Kailua. No. 1 Kahuku rained on the parade, beating Kalaheo 81-60. Note: When the Mustangs had injuries during preseason, Mid-Pacific* beat them 58-44. That’s a 37-point swing.
Sumo rank: Ozeki. If not for injuries, would be yokozuna. The Konishiki of prep hoops.

* Corrected.

6. Kamehameha (13-7, 1-1 ILH)
> Pulls out a close 55-49 win over Saint Louis. Loses close at Maryknoll. The ILH gauntlet: as crazy and competitive as ever.
Sumo rank: Ozeki. Right on the cusp. Try Takanohana, one of the more athletic and consistent during the ‘70s.

7. Kailua (11-7, 3-2 OIA East)
> Grinding out wins is what the Surfriders do. Went to Castle and won 40-30, but also lost to Kalaheo 58-35. They have some sparkling wins on their resume: ‘Iolani, Corona del Sol (Ariz.), Dr. Phillips (Fla.). They also have losses to Kamehameha, Kapolei, Maryknoll, Southwind (Tenn.), ‘Iolani.
Sumo rank: Ozeki. Capable of knocking off the best teams (‘Iolani), but will not necessarily dominate against unranked teams.

8. Lahainaluna (14-1, 6-0 MIL)
> Routed Kamehameha-Maui 59-20 and Maui 69-48. The Lunas’ preseason win over St. Francis (68-57) figures into this ballot. It’s hard to believe, but despite two tournaments on Oahu, the Lunas played (and beat) only one Top 10 team (St. Francis). There were notable moments, though: a 51-30 win over Hayward (Calif.); a 52-50 loss to a tough David Douglas (Ore.) squad.
Sumo rank: Ozeki. Still waiting for a Top 5 litmus test. In due time.

9. St. Francis (15-4, 2-0 ILH D-II)
> Established alpha dog in ILH D-II after a 54-42 win over University. Topped Le Jardin 79-35. One of only two only Hawaii teams to beat Kahuku this season. (That was prior to Dan Fotu’s arrival at Kahuku.)
Sumo rank: Ozeki. Now locked into a menu of D-II competition (ILH and probably state tourney), it’ll be tough for the Saints to rise much higher.

10. Mid-Pacific (5-5, 0-2 ILH)
> Lost at home to Maryknoll 42-40 and ‘Iolani 53-39. Not the biggest or most experienced team, but the Owls have just enough shooting and toughness — the energetic Zion Shepherd is a difficult matchup for any center — to battle for a state-tourney berth.
Sumo rank: Ozeki. Opportunities abound ahead for the Owls.

On the cusp (no specific order)

Saint Louis (9-8, 0-2 ILH)
> Losses at Kamehameha and Punahou have the Crusaders at 0-2 in ILH play. They always feel like a good team that is one player or one play away from being right there with the state’s elite teams. They’ve been much like the boys version of Sacred Hearts, a team that battles close against most ILH D-I competition, but hasn’t posted a signature win. Yet.
Sumo rank: Sekiwake. Think Happy Valley (Maui) born Takamiyama.

Kapolei (11-5, 4-0 OIA West)
> 52-41 win over Pearl City. The Hurricanes have the makings of a state-tourney team, but there’s work to be done. They lost to Corona del Sol (Ariz) by 30 and, though they beat MPI earlier, lost 61-49 in a rematch. They’ve been close against Punahou (81-72), not so close against ‘Iolani (66-47). A 4-0 start in the West is good news. Also good news: they haven’t played their best basketball yet.
Sumo rank: Sekiwake.

Kamehameha-Hawaii (7-9, 2-1 BIIF)
> Lost at neighboring rival Keaau 50-48. Pulled out a tough 73-69 road win at Hawaii Prep.
Sumo rank: Komusubi.

Keaau (2-4, 1-1 BIIF)
> After upsetting KS-Hawaii, the Cougars beat Kealakehe 53-41.
Sumo rank: Komusubi.

Damien (7-4, 2-0 ILH D-II)
> Convincing 51-32 win over Le Jardin. Beat Hanalani 52-40.
Sumo rank: Sekiwake.

Le Jardin (9-4, 0-2 ILH D-II)
> Home loss to Damien is a downer.
Sumo rank: Komusubi.

McKinley (8-6, 5-0 OIA East)
> Tigers started East play 3-0 and added to it with wins over Farrington and Roosevelt on the road. They are 5-0 now after starting preseason with a lot of struggle.
Sumo rank: Sekiwake. Talk about surprise of the East. Still not severely tested in the East — yet — but quite a job by the Tigers and their staff so far.

Leilehua (8-6, 5-0 OIA West)
> Squeaked out a 43-41 win over Pearl City and beat Waialua 58-39.
Sumo rank: Sekiwake. This young team is full of potential, still truly untested in OIA play.

Waianae (6-6, 3-2 OIA West)
> Edged Nanakuli 46-44 in a battle of the Leeward Coast.
Sumo rank: Komusubi.

Kalani (9-6, 3-2 OIA East)
> Lost 61-58 at home to D-II contender Farrington. Big win for the Govs, who have struggled but have the potential to earn a state berth. Falcons are a solid team — lost to Maryknoll by 2 points — so this doesn’t feel like a step down to me. More like Farrington is stepping up.
Sumo rank: Sekiwake.

Kaiser (12-6, 4-1 OIA East)
> Handled Kaimuki 61-35. Took their lumps and started at the bottom of their learning curve playing against tough competition (‘Iolani Classic) early. Now the Cougars are starting to flourish.
Sumo rank: Sekiwake.

Konawaena (2-0 BIIF)
> Went to Hilo (I still haven’t been in that new gym) and won 62-32.
Sumo rank: Komusubi.

Hawaii Baptist (10-6, 2-0 ILH D-II)
> Edged University 62-56, added some definition to the ILH D-II pecking order.
Sumo rank: Komusubi.

Assets (5-2, 4-0 ILH D-II)
> Unbeaten in ILH D-III, winning by margins of 24, 17, 5, 8 and 22. The Admirals have lost to D-II teams (Saint Louis, ‘Iolani), so they aren’t necessarily one of the best small-school programs in the ILH. It’s just fantastic to see such a small school with no gym emerge in boys basketball.
Sumo rank: Maegashira.


  1. Ryan Johnson January 10, 2017 10:03 pm

    I believe you made a mistake in your analysis for Kalaheo. Kalaheo did not play Kailua in the preseason. However there was a game they lost 58-44 but it was against Mid-Pacific.

  2. turfwar January 10, 2017 10:25 pm

    Paul you might want to check on Kailua injury report. Their savy point guard did not play against Kalaheo and it showed. Was at the game and I think I saw him in a boot. But without him they are not the same team. with him they certainly belong among the top ten or maybe higher.

  3. Education First January 11, 2017 10:06 am

    Some voters only factor in regular season. Many coaches (like Iolani) use preseason to experiment with lineups, they allow newcomers to play more minutes than the regular season, and often try new schemes to see what it looks like.

  4. Paul Honda January 12, 2017 12:15 pm

    Thanks turfwar, I’ll check on that. Kailua is very solid, but losing a key guard is huge against a quick team like Kalaheo.
    Looks like Everett Torres-Kahapea didn’t play. Woh!

  5. Paul Honda January 12, 2017 12:17 pm

    Corrected. Thank you, Ryan!

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