For much of preseason basketball history, top teams from the Interscholastic League of Honolulu are ahead of the curve.
Midseason form, not quite, but private-school programs are usually further ahead than their counterparts from the public-school Oahu Interscholastic Association. That was made clear at the Matsumoto Law Group McKinley Black and Gold Classic. The four-day tourney closed out on Monday night with the ILH taking 13 of 15 games against OIA and Maui Interscholastic League competition.
Against the OIA, the ILH’s ‘Iolani, Kamehameha, Maryknoll and Mid-Pacific were combined 11-2.
The OIA’s wins came when Mililani topped Sacred Hearts and Kalani defeated Mid-Pacific.
>> Mililani beat Sacred Hearts 56-43, but lost to Maryknoll 69-41 and Kamehameha 64-42. The Lady Trojans will host ‘Iolani on Friday night.
The Trojans got 11 points from standout point guard Dahlis Sablay in the loss to Kamehameha. Attrition was a factor. Sablay scored all 11 in the first half, but her distributing skills were also on display.
Tall, lanky Kianna Ponce had a team-high 13 points, including a 3. Kalena Gibson had a fantastic tourney, considering she is less than a year removed from last season’s ACL injury. She finished with nine points against Kamehameha. The Trojans went 1-2 in the Classic, but the upside is promising, especially if Gibson can continue to contribute on both ends.
>> Kalani (4-2) lost to Kamehameha 69-65 and ‘Iolani 68-49, then beat Mid-Pacific 54-39.
>> Kahuku started the Classic with a 72-46 loss to ‘Iolani, then lost to Mid-Pacific 51-44 and Sacred Hearts 54-44.
The Lady Raiders are in classic preseason mode. Their conditioning vastly improved by the final day of the McKinley tournament. They led Sacred Hearts 12-7 going into the second quarter, but couldn’t do much to stop penetration, especially by Dallas Martinez.
Coach Latoya Wily will put the Raiders through their practice work, eliminate the basic problems defensively, and in time, the offense will run smoothly with mobile center Sisilia Kaufusi as a focal point. She had to work hard for her 24 points against the Lancers, but with sharpshooters like Maya Claytor and aggressive offense from point guard Leiah Naeata, Kahuku will thrive when the OIA regular season arrives.
>> Host McKinley went 0-3 against a slate of teams that will probably begin the regular season in the Star-Advertiser Top 10. The Lady Tigers showed spurts of scrappy defense and offensive efficiency. Nicole Venzon scored 14 points in the a 62-36 loss to Maryknoll on Monday in the tourney finale. Venzon splashed four 3-pointers in the loss, and Colby Lane hustled for nine points. Explosive point guard Cheenie Melgazo is a tough cover, and in time, the Tigers will be an intriguing matchup for any OIA East opponent.
Can the black and gold finish the OIA season with one of the six state-tournament berths? That’s hard to say without seeing the rest of the league, but there’s enough fire and talent to make that a real goal.