Pupule ballot: #1 to #35; Baldwin, Maui fear Lunas

Lahainaluna girls basketball has won 141 straight MIL games. Photo by Paul Honda/Star-Advertiser.

Maybe it’s the soccer effect. Volleyball? Softball. All of the above?

Pegging 35 teams and ranking them in girls basketball is not as fluid or smooth as it is with boys basketball, but I give it the ol’ pupule try. After all, the state’s best programs are as good as ever. Maryknoll has dominated local teams, hungry after back-to-back runner-up finishes at the state tourney.

Kamehameha is still the second-best team in the rankings despite losing center Kalina Obrey (hand) and other players at different points of the season due to injuries. Two-time defending state champion Konawaena is at No. 3 and is developing its younger players. The Wildcats have been winning for the most part, but haven’t been dominant yet, edging ‘Iolani by narrow margins in preseason, losing at home to Lahainaluna, losing to Maryknoll by 19.


So, yes, the depth of quality programs isn’t what it was in the aughts, and I’m beginning to realize that era was an outlier… but it seems to have bottomed out. Kalani is ascending, reaching the No. 10 spot in this week’s Star-Advertiser Top 10. St. Francis and Sacred Hearts are entrenched in the Top 10, while Waiakea and Campbell have stayed in the poll despite a shortage of quality (Top 10) competition.

Me? I’m not as forgiving at times. Waiakea competes against everybody, but I bumped the young (no seniors) Warriors down a few notches on my ballot this week.

Lahainaluna has all the ingredients for a run to a possible state title, more so when everyone’s healthy. Even without full health, teams like Baldwin and Maui have recently forfeited games. One forfeit was due to a winter ball. The other due to injuries, though the question has to be asked: if MIL Division I fourth-place Maui was to play last-place Baldwin in the same scenario, would there be a forfeit? Schedules have been out since summer.

Is this a precursor to other programs in other sports preferring to take a forfeit loss than challenge a dominant team. Lahainaluna has now won 138 MIL games in a row.

Here’s how I voted. (All win-loss records as of Saturday, Dec. 23.)

Pupule BKG Top 10
12/24/17

1. Maryknoll Spartans (16-2, 3-0 ILH)
Pupule ranking last week: No. 1.
Last week’s games
L 49-47OT Post Falls (Idaho) 12/20 Tarkanian Classic
W 62-26 Buckeye Union (Ariz.) 12/21 Tarkanian Classic
W 69-27 Marlborough (Calif.) 12/22 Tarkanian Classic
W 53-50 Gillette (Wyo.) 12/23 Tarkanian Classic
Vs. Top 10: 11-2.
Top 10 wins: Lahainaluna, Konawaena, Waiakea, @ Mid-Pacific, @ Punahou, Miramonte (Calif.), Oregon City (Ore.), Kamehameha, Buckeye Union (Ariz.), Marlborough (Calif.), Gillette (Wyo.).
Losses (Non-Top 10*): Southridge (Ore.), Post Falls (Idaho).

Skinny: Uber-talented, reaching toward its peak as a team. Imagine next year, when so much of this group will be in college, and there’s a very good possibility that the Spartans will have a win-loss record equal to this one, or better. The culture has been established.

Sumo rank: Yokozuna. Playing style: one part Chiyonofuji, two parts Kitanoumi.

2. Kamehameha Warriors (13-2, 4-1 ILH)
Pupule ranking last week: No. 2.
Last week’s games
W 42-33 @ #7 Sacred Hearts 12/20 ILH
Vs. Top 10: 5-2.
Top 10 wins: Waiakea, Sacred Hearts, @ Punahou, @ ‘Iolani, @ Sacred Hearts.
Losses (Non-Top 10*): Lahainaluna, @ Maryknoll.

Skinny: So this is clear. Without Jewel Paaluhi-Caulk and Kalina Obrey, the Warriors lost to Lahainaluna. Without Obrey, they lost to Maryknoll, but have beaten Sacred Hearts. They also finished the ‘Iolani game with a win after she hurt her left hand in the first half. It’s not easy to gauge how much progress Kamehameha’s players are making while getting more minutes. If the team somehow beats Maryknoll without Obrey in the second go-round, and runs the table, that would be stunning.

Sumo rank: Yokozuna. Musashimaru. An injury, but gritty Musashimaru.

3. St. Francis Saints (16-0, 8-0 ILH D-II)
Pupule ranking last week: No. 3.
W 52-32 @ Damien 12/19 ILH D-II
W 53-31 Punahou II 12/22 ILH D-II
W 41-37 OT @ Hawaii Baptist 12/23 ILH D-II
Vs. Top 10: 2-0.
Top 10 wins: Sacred Hearts. Punahou.
Losses (Non-Top 10*): None.

Skinny: A pivotal week ended with key wins, including the come-from-behind overtime victory over rival HBA on the road. It was evolutionary. HBA became the first team to flat-out hold the ball and nearly succeeded. The Saints played their best basketball when the game entered the fourth quarter. Are they really the third-best team in the state? Maybe. All I know is they have the third-best resume.

Sumo rank: Ozeki. The talent is there. Chemistry, check. Not quite yokozuna status yet. The Saints may not be tested severely in D-II — or should not be — until they meet HBA in the playoffs. The state tourney should be quite interesting again, especially with KS-Hawaii on the radar. But in the ILH, there is a special comeuppance for front-running teams that lose their edge. Can the Saints keep improving without facing a slate of D-I competition?

4. Lahainaluna Lunas (11-4, 5-0 MIL D-I)
Pupule ranking last week: No. 4.
W forfeit @ Maui 12/16 MIL
W Colony (Alaska) 12/19 Baldwin Invitational
W Carson City (Calif) 12/22 Baldwin Invitational
W forfeit @ Baldwin 12/23 MIL
Vs. Top 10: 4-4.
Top 10 wins: Kamehameha, @ Konawaena, Colony (Alaska), Carson City (Calif.).
Losses (Non-Top 10*): ‘Iolani, Maryknoll, Punahou, Campbell.

Skinny: The Maui game on Dec. 16 turned into a forfeit because the Sabers had a winter ball to attend, from what I’m told. I’ve gone on the record a time or two before about the ridiculous costs (gowns, tuxedoes, limousines, hotel rooms, etc.) for an event that basically lasts 3 hours. Then again, it’s the closest experience most moms and daughters can have to a mini-wedding before the real thing happens one day. At what price bonding? None, apparently. I suppose there’s no fine for a team that skips out on an official league game. Should there be one?

Has the time come for Maui High girls basketball to drop into D-II? That wouldn’t be a positive for the MIL. One less opponent for everyone in D-I. But if they’re going to “forfeit” against the league’s dynastic program without repercussion, what’s to stop any other D-I team from exercising the same method? Will other teams in other sports adopt this convenient “reason” for forfeiting? How does this translate to the rest of the state? “Let’s teach this generation that if they’re not willing to work as hard (or more) in the off-season as the mid-sized school in West Maui, let’s just quit for one game and act like nothing happened… rather than lose by a lot of points. Again.”

Then came another away game, this one at Baldwin on Saturday (Dec. 23). The Bears were affected by injuries suffered during their mid-week Baldwin Invitational tournament and decided to forfeit their game against Lahainaluna. For the Lunas, that’s two forfeit wins in the span of eight days. Yet there’s no word of MIL D-I teams forfeiting against other teams not named Lahainaluna.

Sumo rank: Ozeki. Health is a key issue. Two Lahainaluna starters missed the preseason tourney at McKinley due to injuries. When they’re back to full health, this is a yokozuna team.

5. Konawaena Wildcats (12-2, 4-0 BIIF)
Pupule ranking last week: No. 5.
Last week’s games
W 58-3 Pahoa 12/23 BIIF
Vs. Top 10: 6-2.
Top 10 wins: Sacred Hearts, ‘Iolani, ‘Iolani, Mid-Pacific, Campbell, Waiakea
Losses (Non-Top 10*): Maryknoll, Lahainaluna.

Skinny: The drive from Pahoa to Konawaena is one of the longest between any two schools statewide. Perhaps the Kohala-Ka‘u trek is further. It’s no straight, flat line, of course. By the time, the Daggers arrived after 2.5 hours on a wavy, windy, up-an-down path, it was time for a nap. Instead, they took on defending state champion Konawaena. The visitors took a quick 3-0 lead. Then Konawaena scored 58 unanswered points and closed with a 78-5 win. No doubt, it could’ve been more. Then Pahoa boarded the bus for that long drive home. Only on the Big Island. Kudos to the Daggers.

Sumo rank: Yokozuna. Not the best yokozuna at this point. Can the underclassmen close the gap for the Wildcats?

6. ‘Iolani Raiders (9-5, 3-1 ILH)
Pupule ranking last week: No. 6.
Last week’s games
W 46-26 @ Punahou 12/20 ILH
W 75-59 @ #7 Sacred Hearts 12/22 ILH
Vs. Top 10: 5-5.
Top 10 wins: Lahainaluna, @ Waiakea, @ Mid-Pacific, @ Punahou, @ Sacred Hearts.
Losses (Non-Top 10*): Konawaena, Konawaena, Oregon City (Ore.), Naha Senior (Okinawa), Kamehameha.

Skinny: I’d be 100-percent in favor of seeing ‘Iolani play St. Francis. Right now. All in favor, say “Aye!” In every possible way, the Raiders are trending higher. (Note: This will never happen unless the schools schedule an exhibition in-regular season game since ILH D-I and D-II play separate schedules.) Four of their five Top-10 wins were on the road. Of their five losses, all to Top-10 level programs, three were at home, and only one is an in-state team (Kamehameha). If St. Francis had lost to HBA, this deck of cards would’ve been in major re-shuffle mode by voters. ‘Iolani is playing well enough to be justifiable as a No. 4 or No. 5 now, maybe even No. 3. Nobody in this range between 3 and 6 holds straight aces, but ‘Iolani is separating itself from the lower tier of the Top 10.

Sumo rank: Ozeki. Verging on yokozuna status, for sure.

7. Campbell Sabers (12-2, 6-0 OIA West)
Pupule ranking last week: No. 7.
Last week’s games
W 61-17 Aiea 12/19 OIA
W 38-30 @ Waianae 12/22 OIA
Vs. Top 10: 1-1.
Top 10 wins: Lahainaluna.
Losses (Non-Top 10*): Hawaii Baptist*, @ Konawaena.

Skinny: A quick rehash of the Sabers’ magical trip to Kona a month ago… 1) Surprised MIL goliath Lahainaluna. 2) Beat Honokaa, a good D-II program. 3) Lost to defending state champ and tourney host Konawaena by 30. What Konawaena does from time to time is scrimmage against varsity boys. While Campbell fans are enjoying this unbeaten run through the OIA West, is the team actually evolving and becoming good enough to beat established programs like Maryknoll, Lahainaluna and Konawaena? Those teams have proven that they always get substantially better from November to February. This is the most intriguing question about the revitalized Sabers. It has taken years for the program to rise to this point again. Nathan Macadangdang is smiling from above.

Sumo rank: Sekiwake. Not quite established at the highest level like an Ozeki — a one-point home win over a 1-4 Kapolei team is telling — but still above Komusubi.

8. Hawaii Baptist Eagles (15-5, 6-1 ILH D-II)
Pupule ranking last week: No. 13.
Last week’s games
W 57-19 University 12/18 ILH D-II
W 53-30 Le Jardin 12/20 ILH D-II
L 41-37 OT #5 St. Francis 12/23 ILH D-II
Vs. Top 10: 2-4.
Top 10 wins: @ Campbell, @ Sacred Hearts.
Losses (Non-Top 10*): Kamehameha-Hawaii*, @ ‘Iolani, Sacred Hearts, Kamehameha, St. Francis.

Skinny: On this ballot, it’s rare that I elevate a team, let alone bump it up five spots, after a loss. But it’s not because I penalize losers. A loss to a higher-ranked team means little to my pupule framework of logic. Occasionally, the winning team serves as a giant magnet that pulls its closest rivals closer, and that magnetism is partly why I’m voting HBA onto my ballot for the first time this season. But back to the game…

On paper, the strategy made sense. A lineup of five guards facing a talented, bigger, stronger St. Francis team would be better off with a five-out offense. Spread and drive. It worked. The Eagles got 15 first-half points from Ally Wada (10-for-10 at the FT line) and led by four at the half. Then they held the ball and shortened the game in the third quarter. Disciplined. Eschewing open 3s. Forcing the visiting Saints way out of their comfort zone. By the start of the fourth quarter, HBA was already in the bonus with a five-point lead. Then it fizzled. The turnovers piled up. So I have mixed feelings about the strategy. The good: it is a definite weapon when the Eagles take care of the ball. Without a shot clock in high school hoops — only tournaments like the ‘Iolani Classic and St. Francis Holiday Hoops Classic used it — most defense will wilt after chasing a delay strategy like HBA’s. The bad: Wada was still tired in the fourth quarter after being exhausted by the end of the first quarter. Was she too tired to go at a normal pace? She is capable of scoring 30 points every game in ILH Division II. At least 30.

If the Eagles wanted to run and press, that wouldn’t be a problem. But in a slower-paced game, it would be more difficult to develop the confidence of all their starters and reserves. Fewer possessions means fewer shots, fewer rebounds, fewer fastbreaks. My guess is that HBA will pick and choose its spots, and by the state tourney, the Eagles will be able to master any speed, any style of play. But it’s no joke. Wada has the range and driving ability to become a hugely productive scorer. Even in the slower game with St. Francis, she still finished with 25 points. That’s one question I want to ask her: if she had to, would she even want to average 35 a game? Would she want to be Intermediate League Derrick Low 2.0 circa 2005?

Also… Punahou vs. HBA. Yes, this a game I want to see. Also… HBA vs. MPI. HBA has already played 20 games, so even if exhibition games were allowed by the league, don’t think it would happen.

Sumo rank: Sekiwake.

9. Sacred Hearts Lancers (9-7, 2-3 ILH))
Pupule ranking last week: No. 9.
Last week’s games
L 42-33 #2 Kamehameha 12/20 ILH
L 75-59 #5 ‘Iolani 12/22 ILH
Vs. Top 10: 2-6.
Top 10 wins: Mid-Pacific, @ Punahou.
Losses (Non-Top 10*): Konawaena, St. Francis, Hawaii Baptist*, Waiakea, @ Kamehameha, Kamehameha, ‘Iolani.

Skinny: It’s not a surprise that the talented Lancers are in the middle of the pack when it comes to the ILH standings. They’re not the most experienced or oldest team in the league, but they certainly have immense talent in their starting five. I still don’t know if there’s another guard who can stick with Dallas Martinez for an entire game without fouling out. Mantra No. 1 of ILH competition: Evolve or Perish. For weeks, HBA felt like the wild card, the wild hair that couldn’t be combed down. Now, however, it is starting to make sense.

Sumo rank: Sekiwake.

10. Kamehameha-Hawaii Warriors (6-0, 1-0 BIIF)
Pupule ranking last week: No. 12.
Last week’s games
ppd. weather @ Honokaa 12/19 BIIF
W 54-41 Tikigaq (Alaska) 12/20
Vs. Top 10: 1-0.
Top 10 wins: Mid-Pacific.
Losses (Non-Top 10*): None.

Skinny: Waiakea vs. KS-Hawaii? This must happen. And it well, all in due time as the BIIF schedule continues. There are reasons to rank Punahou (or Sacred Hearts) ahead of Kamehameha-Hawaii. Some or most hoop heads would credit any team that simply has a tougher schedule. Punahou has beaten a Top 10 team, Lahainaluna, but as I mentioned above, the Lunas JV team played that day, and the Buffanblu won 38-33. KS-Hawaii, on the other hand, has beaten Mid-Pacific 34-31 (Kaiser Invitational). The same MPI team that has beaten Punahou twice. 1) Common-opponent results aren’t always the best criteria, but that’s enough for me. That, plus the fact that the Warriors are 2) unbeaten, and 3) have wins over HBA and Kaiser, comprise a solid case. Don’t forget that SHA has split with HBA.

Sumo rank: Sekiwake.

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11. Mid-Pacific Owls (7-7, 2-3 ILH)
Pupule ranking last week: No. 10.
Last week’s games
W 39-19 Punahou 12/23 ILH
Vs. Top 10: 3-4.
Top 10 wins: @ Waiakea, @ Punahou, Punahou.
Losses (Non-Top 10*): @ Moanalua*, Konawaena, Hilo*, Kamehameha-Hawaii*, Maryknoll, @ Sacred Hearts, ‘Iolani.

Skinny: Nearly two weeks without a game should give the Owls enough time to recharge after the stress and crisis of seeing their coaching staff depart. So why is MPI lower on my ballot this week after beating (last place) Punahou by 20? It’s a tough, tough call. But Punahou’s margins of defeat are widening lately, and that means a win over the Buffanblu isn’t quite as potent as it once was. Factor in the 73-70 loss to Sacred Hearts and the 77-52 loss to ‘Iolani, and I’m splitting hairs here. There are also three losses to unranked teams (Star-Advertiser poll).

Sumo rank: Sekiwake.

12. Waiakea Warriors (9-5, 2-0 BIIF)
Pupule ranking last week: No. 8.
Last week’s games
Ppd. weather @ Ka‘u 12/20 BIIF
Vs. Top 10: 1-5.
Top 10 wins: @ Sacred Hearts.
Losses (Non-Top 10*): Mid-Pacific, ‘Iolani, @ Maryknoll, Kamehameha, Konawaena.

Skinny: Potentially, this young team has a tremendously high ceiling and could end up in the final four at states. Or they could miss the state tourney.

There is one indication that the Warriors are all about business on the court. They have not lost to an unranked team. There are a lot of teams that are good enough on paper to be in the Top 10, yet have lost to unranked teams. Waiakea has beaten every team it should have. The talent and skill are there. As a team without any seniors, this bodes well for next season.

However, with just one win over at Top 10 foe, the resume is starting to look thin compared to the rest of this tier. A 98-point game (against Kealakehe on Dec. 5) probably could’ve been 110 or 120, but if the Warriors aren’t careful, overmatched opponents may opt out and forfeit rather than take a slugging. Just see what’s happening to Lahainaluna.

Sumo rank: Komusubi.

13. Punahou Buffanblu (8-5, 0-4 ILH)
Pupule ranking last week: No. 11.
Last week’s games
L 46-26 #6 ‘Iolani 12/20 ILH
L 39-19 #10 Mid-Pacific 12/23 ILH
Vs. Top 10: 1-7.
Top 10 wins: Lahainaluna.
Losses (Non-Top 10*): St. Francis, Maryknoll, Kamehameha, Sacred Hearts, @ Mid-Pacific, ‘Iolani, Mid-Pacific.

Skinny: For clarification, yes, when the Buffanblu beat Lahainaluna, the Lunas had their JV team on the floor. The varsity played the McKinley’s tourney; the JV played at Moanalua that same week. Take away the school name, look at the youth of this roster… as Coach Shawna Kuehu says, the process involves growing pains. Eight wins followed by seven losses. The seven L’s are all in the ILH, all to Top 10 teams. The wins? Farrington, Radford, McKinley, Moanalua, Kalani, Nanakuli. What does this mean? This makes Punahou kind of a litmus test for entry into the Top 10, at least on my ballot.

Sumo rank: Komusubi.

14. Hilo Vikings (5-4, 1-2 BIIF)
Pupule ranking last week: No. 14.
Last week’s games
Ppd. weather Ka‘u 12/18 BIIF
Vs. Top 10: 1-4.
Top 10 wins: Mid-Pacific.
Losses (Non-Top 10*): Mililani*, ‘Iolani, Konawaena, Waiakea.

Skinny: The best three teams of the BIIF would beat the best three teams of the OIA. Who are the top three teams in the OIA, which has 23 teams in girls basketball? 1. Campbell. 2. and 3. PICK ‘EM. The OIA East is so much about extreme parity. Almost everyone is beating everyone else from Moanalua to Kaiser. On the Windward side, teams are young and/or rebuilding. In the West, Leilehua is rebuilding. Mililani has struggled, but is getting better. Kapolei is in last place. The division is Campbell’s to lose, basically. It’s not even the strongest year for the BIIF, or even one of the Top 5 best years for the BIIF, and yet… but hat’s off to the Vikings. This is one of the most consistent programs in the state. Every loss to a ranked team has been a single-digit margin, no more than 10 points.

Sumo rank: Komusubi.

15. Moanalua Na Menehune (9-8, 3-2 OIA East)
Pupule ranking last week: No. 15.
Last week’s games
L 67-60 @ Kaimuki 12/19 OIA
W 60-35 Farrington 12/22 OIA
Vs. Top 10: 1-4.
Top 10 wins: Mid-Pacific.
Losses (Non-Top 10*): Punahou, Mililani*, @ Sacred Hearts, St. Francis, Lahainaluna, Hilo*, McKinley*.

Skinny: In this neighborhood, Moanalua stands out as a team that has beaten a Top 10 team. However, the losses to Mililani, Hilo, McKinley and, over the weekend, young and rising Kaimuki, confirm that there’s no alpha dog in the OIA East

Sumo rank: Maegashira.


16. Kamehameha-Maui Warriors (5-2, 2-1 MIL D-I)
Pupule ranking last week: No. 16.
Last week’s games
Ppd. weather @ Maui 12/20 MIL
Vs. Top 10: 0-2.
Top 10 wins: None.
Losses (Non-Top 10*): @ Lahainaluna, Kamehameha.

Skinny: The eye test is one thing. The numbers are another. 3-point range from 1 to 5, a team of unselfish gunners. But a signature win has yet to be claimed. KS-Maui gets their chance to make a statement against King Kekaulike on Wednesday.

Sumo rank: Maegashira.

17. Kalani Falcons (9-6, 6-0 OIA East)
Pupule ranking last week: No. 17.
Last week’s games
W 50-40 @ Kaiser 12/19 OIA
W 82-21 Kailua 12/22 OIA
Vs. Top 10: 0-6.
Top 10 wins: None.
Losses (Non-Top 10*): Maryknoll, Kamehameha, Punahou, Southridge (Ore.), Miramonte (Calif.), ‘Iolani.

Skinny: If there’s a team that’s starting to take that alpha role in the East, it’s Kalani.

Sumo rank: Maegashira.

18. McKinley Tigers (10-5, 4-1 OIA East)
Pupule ranking last week: No. 18.
Last week’s games
W 42-41 Kaimuki 12/22 OIA
Vs. Top 10: 0-4
Top 10 wins: None.
Losses (Non-Top 10*): Kamehameha, Punahou, Sacred Hearts, St. Francis, Kalani*.

Skinny: Average margin of victory isn’t the only telling number, but in McKinley’s case, it reflects a lot of grit. It also serves as a warning. In the first five preseason games, four were losses to teams that eventually landed in the Top 10. Those margins of defeat: 28, 14, 13, 5 points. Then came lopsided wins over Pearl City and Aiea, two schools that are much more proficient in soccer and softball than girls basketball in recent years. Then came the tale of the tape, so to speak. Margins of victory: 6, 6, 8, 21, 8, 5, 1. There was the 38-33 loss to first-place Kalani sandwiched in there. But the average margin of victory since Nov. 30 has been a fairly modest 7.9 points. In other words, the Lady Tigers are more likely to revert to the mean than turn into a juggernaut. Playing in the OIA helps, of course, but time is on their side. If they continue to develop, to consistently attack the rim, to knock down those open 3s, to keep playing physical, smart defense with one of the smallest rosters in the league — maybe anything is possible.

Sumo rank: Maegashira.

19. Kaiser Cougars (7-7, 4-1 OIA East)
Pupule ranking last week: No. 19.
Last week’s games
L 50-40 Kalani 12/19 OIA
W 46-26 @ Castle 12/22 OIA
Vs. Top 10: 0-4.
Top 10 wins: None.
Losses (Non-Top 10*): Lahainaluna, Maryknoll, Mid-Pacific, Kamehameha-Hawaii*, Punahou, Kamehameha-Maui*.

Skinny: A loss to front-running Kalani. A bounce-back win. The course unfolds.

Sumo rank: Maegashira.

20. King Kekaulike Na Alii (4-3, 3-2 MIL D-I)
Pupule ranking last week: Unranked.
W 44-40 @ Maui 12/23 MIL D-I
Vs. Top 10: 0-2.
Top 10 wins: None.
Losses (Non-Top 10*): Kapolei*, Lahainaluna, @ Lahainaluna.

Skinny: That’s a second win over Maui by Na Alii.

Sumo rank: Maegashira.

21. Mililani Trojans (8-7, 5-0 OIA West)
Pupule ranking last week: No. 20.
Last week’s games
W 61-17 Waipahu 12/19 OIA
W 73-17 @ Pearl City 12/21 OIA
Vs. Top 10: 0-5.
Top 10 wins: None.
Losses (Non-Top 10*): @ Maryknoll, Maryknoll, Mid-Pacific, @ Waiakea, Konawaena, Hawaii Baptist*, Kamehameha-Maui*.

Skinny: Was there anyone in the vicinity who questioned why the Trojans would schedule such a tough nonconference slate? Probably not. Set the bar of excellence as high as possible. Aim high every day, every rep and never stop.

Sumo rank: Maegashira.

22. Kahuku Red Raiders (5-7, 4-1 OIA East)
Pupule ranking last week: No. 21.
Last week’s games
W 72-17 @ Kailua 12/19 OIA
Vs. Top 10: 0-5.
Top 10 wins: None.
Losses (Non-Top 10*): @ Sacred Hearts, @ Kamehameha, @ Maryknoll, @ Konawaena, Lahainaluna.

Skinny: I wonder if the young Lady Raiders look at Kailua and realize, it wouldn’t take a whole lot for the Surfriders to revive what they had two, three years ago. Kahuku is in transformation mode, and if they don’t find success this season, they’ll find it soon enough. Coach Latoya Wily has long-term plans for excellence.

Sumo rank: Maegashira.

23. Kamehameha II Warriors (9-7, 5-1 ILH D-IAA)
Pupule ranking last week: Unranked.
Last week’s games
W 53-41 University 12/20 ILH D-II
Vs. Top 10: 0-3.
Top 10 wins: None.
Losses (Non-Top 10*): King Kekaulike*, @ Campbell, Kapolei*, Mid-Pacific, @ Kaiser*, Kamehameha-Hawaii*, St. Francis.

Skinny: The D-II Warriors are another litmus-test team. They’ve beaten D-II programs like Molokai and Pearl City with double-digit margins. They’ve lost to Top-10 and borderline ranked teams aplenty (Campbell, Mid-Pacific, Kaiser, Kamehameha-Hawaii, St. Francis). They also have losses to middling teams (King Kekaulike, Kapolei). Should a litmus-test team be this high at No. 22? The OIA has 22 girls basketball teams (14 D-I, eight D-II) in a fully integrated schedule. The ILH has 21: six D-I, seven D-II, three D-IAA, five D-III) in separate classification-based schedules. The BIIF has 11 teams (five D-I, six D-II) in a combined schedule. The MIL has just eight teams playing separate divisional schedules with five in D-I and three in D-II, through realistically Maui and Baldwin are in the process of going through the motions by forfeiting games to Lahainaluna. The KIF has three teams that play for a D-II state berth. Island School doesn’t play hoops.

Sumo rank: Maegashira.

24. Radford Rams (5-5, 4-1 OIA West)
Pupule ranking last week: Unranked.
Last week’s games
W 35-22 Kapolei 12/19
W 31-22 @ Waipahu 12/22
Vs. Top 10: 0-0.
Top 10 wins: None.
Losses (Non-Top 10*): Punahou, Lahainaluna, Maryknoll, Kamehameha, @ Mililani*.

Skinny: The ‘L’ at Mililani was the first against an unranked team for the Lady Rams. They’ve beaten every OIA opponent including Roosevelt (nonconference) except for Mililani.

Sumo rank: Maegashira.

25. Roosevelt Rough Riders (5-7, 3-3 OIA East)
Pupule ranking last week: No. 21.
Last week’s games
W 51-35 @ Kalaheo 12/22
Vs. Top 10: 0-5.
Top 10 wins: None.
Losses (Non-Top 10*): @ Sacred Hearts, @ Kamehameha, @ Maryknoll, @ Konawaena, Lahainaluna.

Skinny: The Rough Riders are starting to find their groove with wins over Castle and Kalaheo. They’ve made the best of a crisis and veteran John Chung, assisted by boys head coach Steve Hathaway, have stabilized a situation that could have gone completely downhill. Roosevelt’s three losses were by a total of 12 points: Kaiser, 51-49; Kahuku, 42-37; at Kalani, 38-31. They’re in D-II this season, where they could do a lot of damage. It’s an interesting environment because the East and the entire OIA is wide, wide open this season. Roosevelt is the kind of team that could emerge as the best team in the league regardless of classification, but by the playoffs, they’ll be locked in D-II.

Sumo rank: Maegashira.

26. Waianae Seariders (4-1, 4-1 OIA West)
Pupule ranking last week: Unranked.
Last week’s games
L 38-30 #9 Campbell 12/22
Vs. Top 10: 0-1.
Top 10 wins: None.
Losses (Non-Top 10*): Campbell.

Skinny: The Seariders have flourished in the OIA West, but a small margin of victory over Waipahu is a tell. So far, so good. Campbell was their first true test; the Sabers beat Lahainaluna in Kona. A matchup with rival Nanakuli on the road tonight (Wednesday) is another big test.

Sumo rank: Maegashira.

27. Kauai Red Raiders (7-1, 4-0 KIF)
Pupule ranking last week: Unranked.
Last week’s games
W 42-41 @ Kapaa 12/21
Vs. Top 10: 0-1.
Top 10 wins: None.
Losses (Non-Top 10*): @ St. Francis.

Skinny: The Red Raiders squeezed by Kapaa last week and continue to show consistency at the D-II level. Wins over ‘Iolani II (52-41) and Punahou II (48-39) were followed by a loss to St. Francis, the highest-ranked D-II team in the poll. Kauai has won five in a row since.

Sumo rank: Maegashira.

28. Farrington Governors (4-6, 3-3 OIA East)
Pupule ranking last week: Unranked.
Last week’s games
L 60-35 @ Moanalua 12/27
Vs. Top 10: 0-4.
Top 10 wins: None.
Losses (Non-Top 10*): Punahou, Sacred Hearts, ‘Iolani, @ Kahuku*, Kalani, @ Moanalua*.

Skinny: The Govs are in rebuild mode and doing fairly well with wins over Pearl City, Kailua, Castle and Kalaheo.

Sumo rank: Juryo.

29. Kaimuki Bulldogs (6-8, 3-3 OIA East)
Pupule ranking last week: Unranked.
Last week’s games
L 42-41 @ McKinley 12/22
Vs. Top 10: 0-0.
Top 10 wins: None.
Losses (Non-Top 10*): Kamehameha, @ Hawaii Baptist*, ‘Iolani II*, Hilo*, Konawaena, @ Kalani, Kahuku*, @ McKinley*.

Skinny: The close loss at McKinley is a good sign for a Bulldogs squad that struggled early on. Life after Victoria Kintz hasn’t been easy, but first-year coach Jordan Wong is getting leadership from G Kaelyn Espinda.

Sumo rank: Juryo.

30. Seabury Hall Spartans (7-2, 4-0 MIL D-II)
Pupule ranking last week: Unranked.
Last week’s games
W 45-30 Molokai 12/22
W 41-40 @ Molokai 12/23
Vs. Top 10: 0-0.
Top 10 wins: None.
Losses (Non-Top 10*): @ Kauai*, @ Kapaa*.

Skinny: The Spartans seem to be rising higher, which would be a throwback to the aughts when they ruled MIL D-II. They haven’t been utterly dominant. They’ve won their four MIL D-II games by an average of 4.3 points. Of course, no league has the weekend challenge that MIL D-II offers with inter-island home-and-away series on back-to-back nights.

Sumo rank: Juryo.

31. ‘Iolani II Raiders (4-4, 3-2 ILH D-IAA)
Pupule ranking last week: Unranked.
Last week’s games
W 51-39 Damien 12/21
Vs. Top 10: 0-0.
Top 10 wins: None.
Losses (Non-Top 10*): Kauai*, Moanalua*, Kamehameha II*, @ Hawaii Baptist*.

Skinny: After losing early to Kauai (52-41) and Moanalua (62-35), the D-II Raiders have improved steadily.

Sumo rank: Juryo.

32. Le Jardin Bulldogs (4-6, 4-3 ILH D-II)
Pupule ranking last week: Unranked.
Last week’s games
L 53-30 @ Hawaii Baptist 12/20
W 49-10 La Pietra 12/22
Vs. Top 10: 0-1.
Top 10 wins: None.
Losses (Non-Top 10*): Pearl City*, Kamehameha II*, @ Kalaheo*, @ St. Francis, Kamehameha II*, @ Hawaii Baptist*.

Skinny: The Bulldogs have come a long way since those early losses.

Sumo rank: Makushita.

33. University Jr. Bows (6-8, 2-5 ILH D-II)
Pupule ranking last week: Unranked.
Last week’s games
L 57-19 Hawaii Baptist 12/18
L 53-41 Kamehameha II 12/20
W 41-30 Hanalani 12/22
Vs. Top 10: 0-0.
Top 10 wins: None.
Losses (Non-Top 10*): @ McKinley*, Nanakuli*, McKInley*, Punahou II*, @ St. Francis, Damien*, Hawaii Baptist*, Kamehameha II*.

Skinny: The difference between ILH D-II leaders St. Francis and HBA compared to the rest of the division is staggering. University is a tiny school, one of many that would benefit from a Division III state tournament in girls basketball.

Sumo rank: Makushita.

34. Hanalani Royals (3-5, 3-5 ILH D-II)ƒ
Pupule ranking last week: Unranked.
Last week’s games
L 41-30 University 12/22
Vs. Top 10: 0-0.
Top 10 wins: None.
Losses (Non-Top 10*): Le Jardin*, Hawaii Baptist*, @ St. Francis, ‘Iolani II*, University*.

Skinny: The Royals are a solid D-III team trapped in the body of an ILH D-II program, and that’s no knock. St. Francis and HBA are clearly elite teams regardless of classification. Whether it’s soccer or softball or volleyball, the Royals have something that many ILH programs don’t have: a gym. There’s nothing stopping them from emerging as a powerhouse in girls basketball someday, except that Central Oahu leans toward other sports as a whole.

Sumo rank: Makushita.

35. Christian Academy Patriots (6-0, 5-0 ILH D-III)
Pupule ranking last week: Unranked.
Last week’s games
W 37-31 Island Pacific 12/23 ILH D-III (Kroc Center)
Vs. Top 10: 0-0
Top 10 wins: None.
Losses (Non-Top 10*): None.


Skinny: If this were a power rating mathematical formula like Sagarin, I doubt the Patriots would be at No. 35. But what they’ve done with the limitations they face (no gym, tiny campus, etc.) is noteworthy and remarkable. I root for all the Christian Academies of the world because basketball isn’t about enormous facilities or even esteemed tradition. It’s about teamwork, courage and sacrifice. The integral intangibles that transcend wins and losses. That goes beyond school enrollment.

Sumo rank: Sandanme.

COMMENTS

  1. flyinghawaiian December 28, 2017 9:29 am

    FYI regarding Maui D2 for boys and girls. They play both games at the same site on Friday night and Saturday afternoon. Friday night at 7:00 and Saturday at 11:00am so they can get back home on Saturday and do not have to spend two nights away. Friday night home team is home team and Saturday the visitor or traveling team becomes the “home” team because of uniforms. I noticed you mentioned they have to travel for the second game but they do not have too. D2 is called the “Canoe League” You can play Molokai, then the next week travel to Hana, and then play in Lanai the following week. Stay in a gym for three weeks in a row on a Friday night. Tough (Let alone the refs that you get)


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