(A shorter version of this story ran in this morning’s Star-Advertiser.)
The girls season opened two weeks prior to the boys, the time gap giving programs at many schools a chance to avoid practice-schedule conflicts.
Two girls tournaments have already wrapped up. Maryknoll has been the early-preseason beneficiary, going 6-0 combined in tournaments at Farrington and McKinley over the weekend. The Spartans lost three starters to graduation from last year’s state-tourney qualifying team, but a lot of talent returns. There are also some key newcomers who are playing both JV and varsity games in preseason — doubling their fun — before they stay on with Furtado’s varsity squad once the ILH regular season tips off. The Spartans were workmanlike and deep at McKinley’s Hawaii Self-Storage Black and Gold Classic, rolling over Kaimuki (61-22), McKinley (69-20) and Kalani (65-20).
“Maegen (Martin) is in the post and Kaile Cambra is a wing. They’re senior captains,” coach Chico Furtado said. “I slid Alexis Delovio to the 2-guard to make room for our freshman point guard, Rhianne Omori.”
Center/forward Moe Notoai is another freshman ready to contribute.
“By the time we start playing, we’ll have five freshmen on our varsity,” Furtado said.
Lahainaluna, Roosevelt and ‘Iolani were relatively sharp in the Ted Fukushima Invitational at Kaiser two weekends ago. The Lady Lunas, in particular, were strong despite adjusting to a slightly depleted lineup. Three starters, guards Lindsay Bates, Taylor Bates and Aloha Salem, transferred to Konawaena before preseason began.
Still, the Lunas got strong performances from their versatile front court in wins over Kaiser (69-34), Leilehua (65-43) and Punahou (52-50). Junior swingman Cameron Fernandez, who transferred from King Kekaulike to Lahainaluna a year ago, sat most of last year with an injury. She’s at full strength now and was especially tough in the late going during the win over Punahou. What the Lunas may lack in 3-point shooting — all three transfers were perimeter-oriented guards — they can make up for with slashers and post scoring.
Lahainaluna, which reached the state final last year, hosts its tournament this week. The field includes Konawaena, but the Wildcats and Lunas are not scheduled to meet.
The ‘Iolani Classic, on paper, looks like the most formidable field of the girls’ tourneys. The local entries are Konawaena, Roosevelt, Kalani and ‘Iolani.
Konawaena, which won the tourney title in 2012, is back and at full force with all-state scoring guard Chanelle Molina, and sisters Celina Molina and Cherilyn Molina. Celina is one of the top rebounders in the state, while Cherilyn, a freshman point guard, is a starter who is another product of coach Bobbie Awa’s Stingrays program.
Roosevelt is a contender in the OIA. Last year’s heartbreak in the state tournament has fueled their fire; guards Starr Rivera and Sharice Kawakami are a blur on the fastbreak, and sophomore forward Keala Quinlan looked unguardable as a stretch 4 in a 48-42 win over Hilo. Coach Hinano Higa’s squad also beat Honokaa (53-19) and Punahou (47-46) at the tourney.
‘Iolani was solid in its first two wins at the Ted Fukushima Invitational at Kaiser two weekends ago. The Raiders shot lights-out in a win over host Kaiser. The Raiders hit eight 3-pointers in the first half over the Lady Cougars’ zone. After Kaiser switched to man defense, ‘Iolani made just one more trey, but at this early point of the preseason, the Raiders’ ball movement and defense are in mid-season form.
The out-of-state field at the Classic is comprised of Riverdale Baptist (Md.), Miramonte (Calif.), Saint Mary’s (Calif.) and Shenzhen of China.