By Paul Honda
Some notes on the first two rounds so far in the Oahu Interscholastic Association Red Conference girls basketball playoffs.
First, the scores.
Tuesday, Jan. 26
McKinley 65, @ Campbell 45
@ Kapolei, Kalani 29
@ Castle 57, Aiea 37
As expected, home teams had the edge for the most part. Then came the tough part: playing back-to-back nights. Tuesday’s winners had less fortune on Wednesday.
Wednesday, Jan. 28
Moanalua 44, @ Mililani 42
@ Roosevelt 52, Kapolei 34
@ Pearl City 52, Castle 21
That’s right, three of the four home teams won again. Of Tuesday’s four winners, only one succeeded the next night: Moanalua. Coach Kristie Morikawa kept her team in a 2-3 zone against Waianae on Tuesday to save their legs. That also proved to be a risk; Waianae hit five 3-pointers and had a seven-point lead in the second half before Moanalua rallied.
In retrospect, though, it was a smart move. Na Menehune had enough gas to upend the Red West’s second-place team. Mililani got a strong game (again) from Amber Ogata (20 points), but as usual, it’s the East that rules in the postseason. Only Pearl City is still without a loss among West teams.
Here’s some extra info on Farrington’s win over McKinley. It was a strange game in some ways, none more strange than the four technical fouls assessed to the teams.
• Tees for free. After a first-half technical on McKinley coach Abel Werner, three more were whistled, all against Farrington. Two came on one play when center Sofia Folaumahina was was assessed a foul on a McKinley shot. She drew on tech for questioning an official, then was served another tech as she walked down the sideline to her bench.
The two techs drew an ejection and an automatic one-game suspension for the senior center, who did normally starts but didn’t play in the first quarter.
“It came out of frustration,” said Farrington coach Caroline Tatupu, who had a stern talk with Folaumahina after the technicals were assessed. “We always tell them to leave the refs to us and just play. It’s unfortunate; we won’t have her for one game.”
A final tech was called against the Govs late in the game for an illegal substitution (six players on the court).
The biggest impact, though, was the tech against Werner, who has not been on great terms with some officials this season.
“Your job is to officiate the game. It’s a job,” he said. “We’re coaches. We’re volunteers. They’ve been getting emotional all year. One day, they gave us three techs.”
Tatupu empathizes with her counterpart to a point, but doesn’t see the need to test officials.
“You learn to pick your battles,” she said.
• Governor rule. It was fifth win in a row over McKinley since the Tigers moved up to Division I in the 2008-09 season.
• Doubling up. Once again, the OIA has a double-elimination format for the playoffs, which keeps hope alive for all of Wednesday’s losing teams. The OIA has six berths in the Division I state tournament, and they will be doled out once this long playoff tourney is done.
In other words, of the eight remaining teams — half of whom have one loss — six will make the state tourney. Only two won’t. Now is a great time for any team to play its best basketball, and that’s just how the league likes it — send the hot teams.
It’s a format that does few favors for teams that play well in the regular season since that portion of the year is for seeding purposes only — it’s pool play, essentially. But for teams that struggled because of illnesses or injuries or academic issues, it’s a great system. Consistency? Not a priority. Just peak at the right time and you might make a championship run.
It was just three seasons ago that Kaimuki’s boys were 7-5, then went on to win the state crown.
One of the few advantages of finishing among the top two teams in the East or West: your first opponent is playing a back-to-back and has to travel. At the high school level, where players get home from games at 10 p.m., then have to get up for 8 a.m. class the next day, back-to-backs are tough and the OIA knows it. That’s why this advantage was granted to the top teams.
Making the playoffs isn’t tough; six of the seven in the West and East qualified. However, none of the lower-seeded teams that traveled won on Tuesday and Wednesday. Long shots didn’t fare well in these playoffs, but they got their chances.
The tourney is quite long, but one interesting consequence of the double-elimination format is that the elimination games can be far more interesting than the semifinals. After all, the losers in this Saturday’s matchups are done for the season. The winners seal state berths by becoming part of the half-dozen still alive.