2020 is more than just a new year.
This might be the season when the MIL overtakes the BIIF in girls basketball. Konawaena is still the queen of girls hoops. No program has matched its nine Division I state titles in a 15-year span. But top to bottom, or at least 1 through 5, the MIL has become a force. Defending BIIF champion Waiakea is unbeaten in league play.
The MIL, meanwhile, is getting better even as Lahainaluna became mortal. The litmus test might well be Kamehameha-Maui. On paper, the Warriors appear below average with a 4-10 overall record, including 1-5 in league play. However, eight of their losses have come against Top 10 opponents.
KS-Maui opened the season with a 45-19 win over Campbell at the King Kekaulike tournament. A day later, the Warriors defeated Kamehameha-Hawaii, 49-43. Then came a 28-25 loss to Leilehua and an 18-15 loss to Roosevelt.
Hit the brakes. KS-Hawaii has been a D-II powerhouse in the past. This year’s team is highly competitive with Dominque Pacheco in groove mode. She scored 40 points in a 59-53 win over Honokaa last week. KS-Hawaii is 8-1, including 5-1 in the BIIF. The Warriors haven’t been heavily tested in league play yet. They have nonconference wins over Roosevelt (36-31), Nanakuli (42-36) and Kapolei (45-21). But the gauntlet awaits in the next two weeks with Hilo, Waiakea and Konawaena.
Back to KS-Maui. Since posting early wins over some of the better teams in the OIA, the Warriors have played a schedule almost exclusively comprised of Top 10 teams: Maui (twice), Konawaena, Hilo, Waiakea, King Kekaulike (twice) and Lahainaluna.
Kamehameha-Maui is 4-2 against unranked teams and 0-8 against Top 10 squads. A definitive on-the-cusp team.
Let’s compare the top five teams of the MIL, BIIF and, while we’re at it, the OIA and ILH Division II. There is plenty of gray area.
MIL 1: King Kekaulike (6-1 MIL)
BIIF 1: Konawaena (3-0 BIIF)
OIA 1: Kahuku (7-0 OIA East)
ILH D-II 1: Mid-Pacific (6-0 ILH D-II)
Skinny: King Kekaulike dropped out of the Top 10 this week, but is atop the MIL standings. Konawaena is No. 2 in the state and trounced No. 8 Kahuku 56-32 at the Hilo Winter Classic (Nov. 21), and again at the ‘Iolani Classic (66-40). Kahuku and King Kekaulike have not met yet. Kahuku has not played an MIL team, but has a 55-47 overtime win over Hilo at the Vikings’ gym. Hilo played without (arguably) its best player that night. King Kekaulike is 2-1 vs. Top 10 teams with wins over Maui and Lahainaluna. Kahuku is 1-8 vs. Top 10 teams, but frankly, their competition has been more Top 5. Common opponent: None. King Kekaulike is 11-0 against unranked teams. Kahuku is 9-0 against unranked foes. This is splitting hairs, but King Kekaulike barely beat Kapolei, a team without its best player (injury).
MPI is off to a 15-2 start. One of the two losses was to Kahuku (36-24). The other was to Mililani (33-32). The Owls are the only team among this group yet to crack the Top 10, but they’ve been on the cusp for awhile.
Konawaena is coming off a 100-17 win over Honokaa. Guard Kaliana Salazar-Howell scored 39 points, including 36 in the first half.
Order: Konawaena, Kahuku, King Kekaulike, Mid-Pacific.
MIL 2: Lahainaluna (5-2 MIL)
BIIF 2: Waiakea (4-0 BIIF)
OIA 2: Radford (6-0 OIA West)
ILH D-II 2: Hanalani (4-1 ILH D-II)
Skinny: The Warriors celebrate Coach Alika Smith’s birthday today. They are ranked No. 4 this week and arguably should rise higher when the new Top 10 is released on Monday. They are unbeaten against Hawaii teams and were 2-1 on their mainland trip before edging Hilo 55-52 to open BIIF play.
Waiakea overpowered Lahainaluna 51-35 at the Konawaena tourney and hasn’t played Radford. However, the Warriors routed Kahuku 58-31 to begin preseason. Lahainaluna and Radford have not met, but the Lady Lunas are 1-6 against Top 10 opponents and the Lady Rams are 0-5 against ranked teams. Radford also has three losses to unranked teams.
Hanalani has wins over Nanakuli and Kapolei, but lost to King Kekaulike (53-32) decisively.
Order: Waiakea, Lahainaluna, Radford, Hanalani.
MIL 3: Maui (6-2 MIL)
BIIF 3: Hilo (2-2 BIIF)
OIA 3: Roosevelt (6-1 OIA East)
ILH D-II 3: Sacred Hearts (3-1 ILH D-II)
Skinny: Roosevelt had been unbeaten in league play, then lost to Kahuku 52-18 last week. After Kahuku and Radford, there’s only one remaining unbeaten, Castle (7-0 OIA East). However, the Knights lost to Leilehua 37-26 to start preseason.
The Mules (6-1 OIA West) not only have a loss to Waipahu, but they also lost in preseason to two East teams, Kaiser (52-25) and Roosevelt (41-27). Kaiser is 4-3 in the East. Roosevelt is 6-1 out East, so even with the lopsided loss to Kahuku, the Rough Riders are at least a half-notch ahead of the OIA aside from Kahuku and Radford. (Even though I’m not sold yet that Radford is clearly better than Roosevelt.)
The Lancers of Sacred Hearts are 0-3 against Top 10 teams and 10-3 against unranked opponents. That includes losses to Radford, Mid-Pacific and Hanalani. They also have a 45-27 win over Roosevelt.
Maui? The Sabers already have three wins over Top 10 teams. Only Maryknoll, Punahou, Waiakea, Kamehameha, Konawaena and ‘Iolani have more.
Order: Hilo, Maui, Sacred Hearts, Roosevelt.
MIL 4: Seabury Hall (4-0 MIL D-II)
BIIF 4: Kamehameha-Hawaii (5-0 BIIF)
OIA 4: Leilehua (6-1 OIA West)
ILH D-II 4: Hawaii Baptist (2-2 ILH D-II)
Skinny: Seabury Hall’s strong showing in preseason at the Sacred Hearts Invitational merited a No. 10 ranking by coaches and media for two weeks. Then came a loss to Maui, and the Spartans tumbled even though they had beaten Maui three weeks earlier. KS-Hawaii and Leilehua have not been ranked yet, but the Warriors are 3-0 vs. the OIA (Roosevelt, Nanakuli, Kapolei). The Mules, as noted earlier, have a loss to Roosevelt.
HBA gets the nod over Damien for ILH D-II 4 after beating the Monarchs 60-46. The Eagles are 10-3 against unranked teams, including losses to Kalani, Hanalani and MPI. The other two losses were to Seabury Hall and ‘Iolani.
Order: Seabury Hall, KS-Hawaii, Leilehua, HBA.
MIL 5: Kamehameha-Maui (1-5 MIL)
BIIF 5: Honokaa (1-1 BIIF)
OIA 5: Mililani (5-1 OIA West)
ILH D-II 5: Damien (3-2 ILH D-II)
Skinny: This is where it’s highly debatable. Honokaa has barely played a game, yet nearly knocked off a good KS-Hawaii team. KS-Maui, as mentioned earlier, has played eight games against ranked teams and is 4-2 against unranked opposition. That includes a win over KS-Hawaii and a three-point loss to Leilehua. OIA 5 is a tough spot between Mililani (9-6 overall) and Castle (11-2, 7-0 OIA East). The Trojans are 9-2 against unranked teams with those two losses against Mid-Pacific and Radford. The Knights have not played a Top 10 team yet, and their two losses were to Leilehua and Waipahu.
Order: Mililani, KS-Maui, Honokaa, Damien.
The final math: BIIF (17 points), MIL (15), OIA (12) and ILH D-II (six).
For the curious, it is safe to say ILH D-I would claim the top spot on each perch. ‘Iolani, Punahou, Maryknoll, Kamehameha are all in the Top 6 of the rankings. MPI would be the ILH 5. It would be a clean sweep at this point.
The professor, Frank Mauz, took in the defensive battle between Mid-Pacific and Hawaii Baptist on Friday. He noted that there were no free-throw attempts in the entire second half. MPI won the game, 29-28, behind Madi Sagawa’s 11 points. The Owls overwhelmed ‘Iolani II, 61-33, on Saturday and remains unbeaten in ILH Division II.