‘Iolani a unanimous No. 1 for first time

Taylor Wu and the 'Iolani Raiders were listed No. 1 on every Top 10 ballot this week. Photo by Cindy Ellen Russell / Star-Advertiser

The ‘Iolani Raiders don’t flinch.

Ranked No. 1 in all seven previous Star-Advertiser Girls Basketball Top 10 polls this season, ‘Iolani is now a unanimous selection for the first time. The Raiders collected all 10 first-place votes from coaches and media this week.

Despite being a season-long No. 1, ‘Iolani (17-6, 8-1 Interscholastic League of Honolulu) was far from a popular top pick twice. In week 1, Konawaena garnered six of the 10 first-place votes, but was outpointed by ‘Iolani.

In week 3, Kamehameha was atop six ballots, but was No. 2 in the point count despite beating ‘Iolani days earlier. Within a week, the Warriors lost to Punahou and hasn’t challenged for the top slot since.

Meanwhile, the Raiders are on a seven-game win streak in ILH play. Since losing to Kamehameha on Dec. 7, they have beaten Punahou (52-37), Mid-Pacific (56-21), Kamehameha (58-45), Punahou (59-36), and this week, Maryknoll (52-39) and Sacred Hearts (76-52).

The ILH run was staggered by two tournament appearances and a total of five losses to national powerhouses.

For No. 2 Lahainaluna, No. 3 Maryknoll, No. 4 Kalani and the rest of the Top 10, there’s one note to consider. ‘Iolani hasn’t been fully unlocked and unloaded just yet. The Raiders have played excellent games, but most of the season has been about the contribution of their deep roster as a sum of the parts rather than hellaciously good individual performances.

The return of guard Lily Lefotu Wahinekapu is almost immeasurable to ‘Iolani on both ends of the floor. Even without her, they learned to score and defend with efficiency. With her, the Raiders are a prototype of the kind of high-pace team that can get points in the paint, rain 3s and still defend at an elite level.

Waiakea made the biggest leap in the Top 10, going from No. 9 to No. 6 after ended Konawaena’s 124-game win streak in Big Island Interscholastic Federation play. Konawaena dropped just one notch to No. 7.

The tight circle of vote-getters expanded just a bit this week. Last week, only 11 teams received votes. This week, Mililani and Sacred Hearts got points. Mililani was just two points behind No. 10 Punahou.

Honolulu Star-Advertiser Top 10

Updated: 10/23
1.Kamehameha (10)100


  1. Coach January 14, 2019 4:44 pm

    That’s a lot of bs.i watched Hilo beat Waiākea with their two bigs on the bench.and they are still behind Waiākea and Konawaena?Who does the rankings?

  2. Paul Honda January 14, 2019 9:05 pm

    Coaches and media do the rankings. It’s in the story. Hilo could have convinced a lot of voters, I think, with a win over Konawaena, but lost 46-44.

  3. Alani M January 15, 2019 12:03 am

    There’s your answer. Don’t argue. They got the rankings right.

  4. 88 January 15, 2019 10:00 am

    The rankings are not based on who beats who. It’s purley based on team potential. So you can lose and still be ranked higher than the team that beat you. Crazy huh….

  5. Paul Honda January 15, 2019 10:19 am

    Yep, there’s no formula. Everyone has his or her own criteria.

  6. BIIF Watcher January 15, 2019 3:14 pm

    Paul, when Hilo lost to Kona by 2, they did not have their starting pg. Granted, injuries are part of sports. But, many people factor in injuries or who might not be playing into voting.

    How many teams can lose their starting pg, and not be affected at all. And I think Hilo beat Waiakea two times.

  7. Burgla January 15, 2019 8:01 pm

    Some voters are biased at least a little I’m sure.

  8. Pun Parent January 15, 2019 9:36 pm


    Scoringlive’s ranking are more credible in my opinion.

  9. Burgla January 16, 2019 2:38 am

    Waiakea has better chance than Hilo; swap positions at least?

  10. Wainakea January 16, 2019 10:31 pm

    Konawaena will either take this loss and get better or just fall given they’re a young team. Not having Uchida is really hurting Kona. It’s a rebuild year for Konawaena in many sports.

    Waiakea and Hilo are evenly matched. They could beat one another at any given day. Waiakea was the state’s #4 team last year and they’re returning most all starters. Hilo won against Waiakea in the regular season but fell short to the Warriors in the playoffs.

    People tend to sleep over BIIF girls basketball but look at how many state championships BIIF has taken in both D-I and D-II over the past 10 years. 12 out of 20. Daphne Honma retiring from Honoka’a couple years ago made the field less stacked, in addition to coaching changes at KS-Hawaii this year, but overall BIIF has been traditionally a strong basketball league.

  11. Paul Honda January 17, 2019 1:35 pm

    One of the trends I’ve seen in two decades of polling coaches and media is that established programs get far more benefit of the doubt. Even after a loss, it might take an extra week before voters reflect what really happened on the court or field. Yes, Hilo easily could have won that game at Onizuka Gym. Balance every factor out, like driving 2.5 hours on a bus to a game after a full day of classes — that is worth at least six to 10 points in my experience — and Hilo definitely has a chance to win the BIIF. But it is never easy to beat a very good team like Waiakea three times. Or twice. Hilo will have to get past Konawaena — at Konawaena — just to have a shot at Waiakea now.

    Wish I could watch the BIIF playoffs on Friday and Saturday.

  12. Burgla January 19, 2019 2:38 am

    There needs to be more interstate games; it would really help all parties involved. Imagine a state preview during regular season! Or Hilo vs Iolani in reg season matchup? Logistics? We all close enough and know about long bus rides.

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