Dynastic-level programs are rare to find these days.
The result, though, is a plus when it comes to parity in girls basketball. Particularly in ILH Division II and the MIL.
On Saturday, Mid-Pacific went to Central Oahu to take on Hanalani in a battle between D-II title contenders. The Owls left Hanalani’s gym with a wild 45-42 win, rallying from an eight-point halftime deficit. Former Advertiser sportswriter (and HCC math professor) Frank Mauz took the game in on Saturday morning and came away with a sense of confirmation about MPI.
“Down by eight at the half, the Owls score 15 unanswered points, holding the Royals scoreless until 22 seconds left in the third quarter. Hanalani claws back to within one, 35-34, but (Lishae) Scanlan (only two points in second half) draws her fourth foul with 5:14 left, fouls out with 4:41 left. Two- to four-point margins for MPI rest of the way. After time-out with 8 seconds, potential game-tying trey misses.
The professor’s tally had Madi Sagawa with 22 points for the Owls. She’s been one of the most consistent scorers in the state, but she also got help from Paige Fahrni, who had “six key fourth-quarter points,” said the Wizard of Mauz.
Though Scanlan jumped on the radar as a freshman last season, classmate Jacie Nava finished with 17 points against MPI, including 12 in the fourth quarter. The professor noted that Scanlan shot 4-for-10 from the free-throw line in the first half.
Mid-Pacific is now 4-0 in ILH D-II (13-2 overall) with a 12-day break until the next league game. Hanalani is 2-1 in league play (6-2 overall). For the Top 10 voting panel, both teams are worth a close watch. The Owls have played just one ranked team thus far, a 36-24 loss to Kahuku. The other loss was to OIA West powerhouse Mililani, and that evened their series at 1-all in preseason.
Hanalani’s only other loss: King Kekaulike. That 53-32 loss on Dec. 7 didn’t register much more than a blip for some time. But now, with King Kekaulike on the radar after upsetting Lahainaluna, Hanalani makes more sense as a potential Top 10 team — just not now after losing at home.
And speaking of King Kekaulike…
How quickly they fall
Unbeaten King Kekaulike cracked the Top 10 on Monday, just six days after shocking Lahainaluna at the Lahaina Civic Center. But on the day Na Alii made the poll, they visited Maui.
Bad news. Maui had already made some noise by splitting with Seabury Hall. Maui lost at home to the Spartans, then later beat them at Lanai’s tournament while Seabury was ranked No. 10 at the time.
So King Kekaulike comes to Maui on Monday. Na Alii had already beaten Maui 63-42 in their MIL opener on Dec. 4. That might as well have been another lifetime. Maui’s stunning 63-52 win confirms what Lunas coach Todd Richard said over the weekend. The MIL truly is wide open.
If King Kekaulike was worthy of a No. 9 ranking and Lahainaluna worthy of No. 10, what do voters make of Maui and Seabury Hall now? Maui is the only MIL team with at least two wins over Top 10 opponents. Seabury Hall knocked off defending D-II state champ Hawaii Baptist in late November, and gave Punahou a good battle, but the Spartans don’t have an actual win over a ranked team. Same with Lahainaluna, which had one of the toughest preseason slates in the state. The Lunas are 0-5 against ranked teams, and that includes the loss to King Kekaulike. They also own a 59-33 rout of Maui in the Sabers’ gym.
The question that really matters, of course, is which two of the MIL D-I programs will qualify for the state tournament. Seabury Hall is in D-II, clearly the frontrunner. But between King Kekaulike (11-1, 4-1), Lahainaluna (3-5, 3-1) and Maui (7-3, 4-1), someone will miss the big dance in February.
Honolulu Star-Advertiser Top 10
|Updated: May 9 (final)|