(Note: Updates to add Hilo. I totally forgot about them in my faux ballot.)
There’s no school on Saturday unless you are kid in Japan.
But we did learn a thing or two that day — and in the past three weeks — on the girls’ roundball courts. I still haven’t seen all of the state’s top teams — Konawaena is 7-0, including a recent 85-2 win over Maui, and hosting its tourney next week, followed by a visit to the ‘Iolani Classic (Dec. 11). But I’ve seen Lahainaluna, Punahou, Roosevelt, ‘Iolani, Hilo, Maryknoll. That’s a good core of the first Top 10, I’m certain. Sacred Hearts looked solid last week against McKinley. Kailua is in that mix somewhere below the top tier. After seeing them twice this week, they still look like a team that could surprise in the postseason.
Seeing Roosevelt and ‘Iolani win today reinforced what I believe about them. Both are beyond sloppy preseason play and ready, even now, for serious competition. Kamehameha has played just twice, but even in defeat today, the Warriors are doing some solid work defensively and on the boards, ahead of the learning curve for a very young team.
If I were to vote on a Top 10 ballot today, it would look something like this:
1. Konawaena (7-0) (updated). Offense: 66.4 ppg. Defense: 21.7 ppg. S.O.S. (strength of schedule) hasn’t been great, but give them time. The Classic is nearing.
>> W 64-20 KS-Hawaii, Nov. 13
>> W 77-21 Waiakea, Nov. 14
>> W 85-2 Maui, Nov. 15 (note: the score is not a typo)
>> W 64-30 Honokaa, Nov. 22
>> W 68-22 Maui, Nov. 27
>> W 53-24 Mililani, Nov. 28
>> W 54-33 Leilehua, Nov. 29
2. Maryknoll (7-0). Still defensive-minded, but running the floor with speedy bigs like Maegen Martin is almost unfair.
3. Roosevelt (4-0). Wins over Punahou (47-46), Hilo (48-42), Honokaa (53-19) and Kamehameha (47-42).
4. ‘Iolani (4-0). Not as strong a schedule so far compared to Roosevelt, but still… Wins over Leilehua (54-36), Honokaa (56-29), Kaiser (62-13), Kailua (65-49). Nine treys against Kaiser. Eight against Kailua.
5. Lahainaluna (3-1). Yes, they lost to Hilo at Hilo’s tourney (54-49). But a close loss at the home gym of another good team while traveling off-island… that’s forgivable. The Lady Lunas have wins over Kaiser (69-34), Leilehua (65-43) and Punahou (51-49 OT).
>> vs. Mililani, Nov. 27
>> vs. Nanakuli, Nov. 28
>> vs. Hilo, Nov. 29
6. Punahou (1-2). Beat Hilo (48-37), lost to Roosevelt (47-46) and Lahainaluna (51-49 OT).
7. Hilo (4-2). I’m missing scores*, so any help is appreciated. The Vikings are not big, not tall, but play fast and scrappy. They rebound well for a small team, but the wear and tear on Alexis Pana, their best scorer and rebounder, is a factor to watch for. I think her older sister, Aliyah, got worn down last year after moving from the backcourt to the low post. She was willing to sacrifice her game for the better of the team. Alexis is one of the best guards in the state, but she was fatigued at the Ted Fukushima Invitational during that third game in a 24-hour span.
>> L 48-37 Punahou, Nov. 15
>> W 52-28 Kaiser, No. 15
>> L 48-42 Roosevelt, Nov. 16
>> W 61-43 Mililani, Nov. 20 *
>> W 65-25 Keaau, Nov. 21 * (Mahalo to Josh Pacheco for passing along these two scores today.)
>> W 54-49 Lahainaluna, Nov. 22
>> vs. Leilehua, Nov. 27
>> vs. Maui, Nov. 28
>> @ Lahainaluna, Nov. 29
8. Kamehameha (1-1). Beat Kalani (77-29), lost to Roosevelt close (47-42).
That’s right. My last two spots would be blank until the voting deadline. I still need to see more teams before I can vote with a sense of conviction. Sacred Hearts looked good last week, but that was just one game. Maybe they go at No. 10. Mid-Pacific? Haven’t seen them yet, but looking forward to that. Kahuku?
Always lots of potential. Leilehua? Since their OIA title-win two seasons ago, they’ve declined a bit. What I saw at the Ted Fukushima Invitational was a young team in transition, lots of growing and building to do. Mililani? Some key losses, including center Sarah Liva (Portland State). There are always a whole lot of competitive teams, often with one standout player. But to get anywhere near the state tourney, it takes at least two standouts, and three is always nicer.
The OIA West appears to be heading for a slightly down year, but I hope I’m wrong. Campbell had been an ascending program a few years back, and with Boys & Girls Club and their basketball facility, it seemed like the Saber girls team could become consistently elite. Pearl City hasn’t been the same since Mike Morton retired from coaching. Farrington will enter the Top 10 at some point, if not preseason, even if Jeneva Toilolo is their only double-digit scorer — and rebounder.
Moanalua’s been very competitive for many years, but replacing LaChae McColor will be a challenge. Kaiser should emerge as a threat in the OIA playoffs, but coach Simon Bitanga does have a fairly young squad. Their JV team is way taller and bigger than the varsity. Maybe next year is their year.
Kapolei and Kalani played for the title at the Lee Cashman Invitational (Kalaheo) on Saturday. Honokaa’s defense of the state D-II title doesn’t look so strong yet, but they’re young, Daphne Honma is a GREAT coach, and they will develop quickly. Still no Kahea Schuckert-type scoring machines on the horizon, but the Dragons will improve. Radford has smooth post scorer Jasmine Moody, but how’s the supporting cast?
I suppose my final two spots could look like this:
9. Kailua (3-2). Swept through Moanalua Peek, lost to Maryknoll and ‘Iolani.
10. Kaiser (3-3). Bounced back from tough competition at the Ted Fukushima with wins over University, Mid-Pacific and Sacred Hearts.
OK, OK. My last two spot are still a Bermuda Triangle of possibilities. I’m open to discussion on this.