Dynasties of the New Century (part 1)

The more things change…

OK, I can’t help thinking about this, particularly after seeing Konawaena overwhelm Punahou 51-27 on Wednesday night in the quarterfinals of the OC-16/HHSAA Girls Basketball State Championships. (Note: A 12-team format will always be skewed when one of the state’s top 4 teams, Punahou, has to meet the No. 1 seed on day two.)

In a post yesterday, I mentioned the dynastic era of Punahou girls basketball under then-coach Mike Taylor. It ran concurrently (yes, there can be more than one dynasty existing simultaneously) with the start of Konawaena’s ascent. If I remember right, over a span of eight years, each team won four titles. Let’s see.

State champions, coach
2003 Punahou, Mike Taylor (runner-up: Kahuku)
2004 Konawaena, Bobbie Awa (runner-up: Kahuku)
2005 Punahou, Mike Taylor (runner-up: Konawaena)
2006 Punahou, Mike Taylor (runner-up: Roosevelt)
2007 Konawaena, Bobbie Awa (runner-up: Punahou)
2008 Punahou Mike Taylor (runner-up: ‘Iolani)
2009 Konawaena, Bobbie Awa (runner-up: Punahou)
2010 Lahainaluna, Todd Rickard (runner-up: Konawaena)
2011 Konawaena, Bobbie Awa (runner-up: Punahou)
2012 Konawaena, Bobbie Awa (runner-up: ‘Iolani)
2013 Kamehameha, Darold Imanaka (runner-up: Konawaena)
2014 Punahou, Kevin Velasco (runner-up: Lahainaluna)
2015 Konawaena, Bobbie Awa (runner-up: Lahainaluna)

For Taylor’s teams, it was four titles in six years. For Awa’s teams, four in the past seven years and a total of six over a 12-year span.

Point is, it was a different era, really. Only in the past two, maybe three seasons, have officials bided in a real way to the national federation’s edict that hand-checking be called. What does this have to do with Hawaii prep basketball of the aughts?

Konawaena, in the infancy stage of its rise both in the BIIF and the state-tourney stage, was uber-talented — Jazzmin Awa-Williams, Jessica Hanato, Nancy Hoist today would arguably be the best trio in the state. The run has yet to be done at the small rural school despite having a shrunken enrollment that has yet to recover from the “expansion” that saw Kealakehe and Kamehameha-Hawaii open large campuses in the late 1990s. The Wildcats had the benefit — and wisdom — that came from hiring Bobbie Awa as girls varsity coach.

In those amazingly hoop-centric years when Kailua-Kona’s only public gym finally opened (1993), there were an incredible number of newly-formed basketball clubs run mostly by dads coaching their daughters. Teams playing in the P&R league there came from as far north as Kohala and Honokaa and as far south as Ka‘u. It was a rocking place to be on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., games for 5-year-olds and teenagers and everyone else in-between.

That was a good place to start. But what worked against those early Konawaena teams was the basic fact (meaning, many opinions, at least on this topic) that BIIF officials had always and continue to call it by the book. They called hand checks long before the national federation felt the need to make it a point of emphasis.

Calling those bumps and forearms while a dribbler is in motion, not so common away from the BIIF. But in the BIIF, that made it an offensive player’s dream situation. Games going into the 80s, 90s and beyond weren’t uncommon. Free throws. An avalanche of free throws, at times.

While that was prevalent in the BIIF for decades, leagues like the ILH and OIA allowed plenty of contact. While the OIA often had football coaches on the hardwood calling basketball games, the ILH was simply a grind-it-out league from way back. All that competition and excellence and recruiting made for physical combat on the court. Most officials would not and almost could not blow their whistle as long unless the contact was an advantage/disadvantage situation. ILH officials were among the last to adhere to the federation’s edict about hand-checking.

It’s obvious, of course, to note that the 2010s were highlighted by enormous talent at Konawaena with guards Lia Galdeira and Dawnyelle Awa, who both went on to Washington State. But they endured through small rosters and sometimes brutal defensive treatment. Galdeira, in particular, took her share of hits from mainland competition before the emphasis edict.

So what happens when an era is dominated by a team from a league that calls everything and more, and another team from a league that allows just about every bit of contact outside of a shot release?

See Part 2 here


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