Pupule ballot*: Maryknoll girls the team to beat

Could this be the year the Maryknoll Spartans breaks through and win a state championship? They are favored to do so by the Honolulu Star-Advertiser girls basketball top 10 voters. Paul Honda/Star-Advertiser (Nov. 11, 2017)

Girls basketball preseason tipped off a couple of weeks ago, and though we’re not doing a girls basketball Top 10 just yet, this pupule brain is wrapping itself around what it saw at the McKinley Black and Gold Classic and a nonconference game between Kamehameha and Kaimuki. That was enough to stoke the fire a bit. This is not a ballot, but the beginning of one.

Pupule BKG ballot 11/17/17
(Updated with more recent results)

Teams listed in no particular order.

Maryknoll Spartans (6-0)
W 56-19 Mililani 11/04 nonconference
W 72-31 Kalani 11/08 McKinley Black & Gold
W 55-15 Mililani 11/09 Moanalua Peek
W 52-22 Kaiser 11/10 Moanalua Peek
W 52-36 Lahainaluna 11/10 McKinley Black & Gold
Radford 11/11 Moanalua Peek
W 56-37 Konawaena 11/11 McKinley Black & Gold
Kahuku 11/25 nonconference
Waiakea 11/29 nonconference
Miramonte (Calif.) 12/09 ‘Iolani Classic
TBA 12/10 ‘Iolani Classic
TBA 12/11 ‘Iolani Classic
Post Falls (Idaho) 12/20 Tarkanian Classic, Durango HS gym, 7:40 p.m. Mountain Time
TBA 12/20 Tarkanian Classic, Las Vegas
TBA 12/21 Tarkanian Classic, Las Vegas
TBA 12/22 Tarkanian Classic, Las Vegas
TBA 12/23 Tarkanian Classic, Las Vegas

> The skinny: Loaded, experienced. This should be the Lady Spartans’ year after finishing second to Konawaena the past two seasons.

> Plus: Balanced on both ends with a seasoned point guard (Rhianne Omori), slashing wings (Chayse Milne, Kamalu Kamakawiwo‘ole), a dominant shot-blocking center (Isabella Cravens) and depth (Kodee Viena, Moe Notoa, Georjette Stietzel).

> X factor: Coach Chico Furtado has not put much weight on anything this early in the season, from the win over defending champion Konawaena or any other ‘W’. How the unbeaten Spartans find ways to improve without having a challenge — so far — will be crucial.

Kamehameha Warriors (5-1)
W 56-28 McKinley 11/09 McKinley Black & Gold
W 60-36 Kalani 11/10 McKinley Black & Gold
L 50-42 Lahainaluna 11/11 McKinley Black & Gold
W 67-22 Nanakuli 11/10 McKinley Black & Gold
W 52-31 @ Kaimuki 11/16 nonconference
W 53-35 Kahuku 11/20 nonconference
@ Radford 11/21 nonconference
Sacred Hearts 12/07 ILH
@ Punahou 12/09 ILH
@ ‘Iolani 12/12 ILH

> The skinny: When healthy, really solid balance. Currently playing without C Kalina Obrey (ankle), PG Jewel Paaluhi-Caulk

> Plus: UC Santa Barbara signee G/F Kiana Vierra is shooting well from deep. C Kaylee-Brooke Manuel is developing into a formidable defender and scorer. Depth in the post is a luxury for most teams. Coach Joseph Cho likes the combo here.

> X factor: There was some struggle vs. fullcourt pressure w/o Paaluhi-Caulk (re: Lahainaluna game).

Lahainaluna Lunas (1-2)
L 49-45 ‘Iolani 11/09 McKinley Black & Gold
L 52-36 Maryknoll 11/10 McKinley Black & Gold
W 50-42 Kamehameha 11/11 McKinley Black & Gold

Lahainaluna JV roster vs. Varsity teams (2-1)
W 43-36 Kaiser 11/09 Moanalua Peek
W 38-23 Radford 11/10 Moanalua Peek
L 38-33 Punahou 11/11 Moanalua Peek

The info above? True. Their eight JV freshmen beat Kaiser and Radford, then lost a close game to Punahou. That means the Lunas JV has a better win-loss record against varsity teams than the Lunas Varsity. Of course, the LLHS Varsity faced three probable Top 10 teams while going 1-2.

> The skinny: Played with eight at McKinley Black and Gold Classic. Two starters out with injuries. Flat finish in two defeats, but went back to fullcourt press to beat depleted Kamehameha.

> Plus: When senior guards Rachael Balagso and Braeanna Estabillo attack the rack, Lunas get quality possessions. 

> X factors: Injured starter F/C Susitina Namoa (foot) isn’t likely to return soon. C Erin Hookano has nice shooting touch from 10 feet, needs to be consistently aggressive to the basket.

Punahou Buffanblu (6-0)
W 59-22 Farrington 11/08 McKinley Black & Gold
W 29-20 Radford 11/09 Moanalua Peek
W 35-21 McKinley 11/10 McKinley Black & Gold
W 52-30 Moanalua 11/10 Moanalua Peek
W 44-42 Kalani 11/11 McKinley Black & Gold
W 38-33 Lahainaluna (JV) 11/11 Moanalua Peek

> The skinny: Good ball movement and energy levels from game one under first-year head coach Shawna Kuehu.

> Plus: Good depth despite a roster with six freshmen. PG Melody Lum (Fr.) outstanding defensively and aggressive offensively, has knack for hitting buzzer beaters. C Tamalani Fonoti (Fr.) s 6-4, good hands and footwork, huge potential. 

> X factor: Fonoti is young and prone to a little foul trouble, so post defenders and rebounders are still in need.

Konawaena Wildcats (3-1)
W 59-28 Sacred Hearts 11/09 McKinley Black & Gold
W 46-41 ‘Iolani 11/10 McKinley Black & Gold
L 56-37 Maryknoll 11/11 McKinley Black & Gold
W 38-35 ‘Iolani 11/16 Waiakea Invitational
Mid-Pacific 11/17 Waiakea Invitational
Mililani 11/18 Waiakea Invitational
Kahuku 11/30
Kaimuki 12/01
Lahainaluna 12/01
Campbell 12/02
@ Hilo 12/12 BIIF

> The skinny: Down to eight players at the McKinley Black and Gold Classic, ups and downs. G Cherilyn Molina still has a fantastic motor on both ends. Molina and G Mikayla Tablit were two best defensive guards in the tourney. Lack of depth took a toll. Tablit was unusually cold from deep. Then again it was the first week of preseason. Honokaa transfer G/F Kawena Kaohimanu is a streaky shooter who had five treys in one of the wins. Her skill set will alleviate congestion. 

> Plus: With a very young group aside from the seniors — three freshmen — time is on the side of the defending champs. They have two more tournaments before BIIF play starts.

> X factor: Agile, athletic F/C Caiyle Kaupu (So.) resembles former standout Mana Hopkins (HPU), but held back a bit too much in the battle with Maryknoll. If she attacks centers from the perimeter, who stops her? If she attacks like Hopkins once did, this would change everything. If she doesn’t, this team is a notch below the previous eight state-title teams, but still one level above the very thin Hopkins/Hina Kimitete squad that lost in the state quarterfinals.

‘Iolani Raiders (2-2)
W 49-45 Lahainaluna 11/09 McKinley Black & Gold
L 46-41 Konawaena 11/10 McKinley Black & Gold
W 62-35 Farrington 11/11 McKinley Black & Gold
L 38-35 Konawaena 11/16 Waiakea Invitational
Hilo 11/17 Waiakea Invitational
Waiakea 11/18 Waiakea Invitational
@ Kahuku 11/24 nonconference
@ Leilehua 11/25 nonconference
Hawaii Baptist 11/28 nonconference
Oregon City 12/07 nonconference

> The skinny: Week one at the Black and Gold revealed a young Raiders team — only two seniors — that plays together and still plays fast. They knocked of MIL giant Lahainaluna, lost two close games so far to Konawaena, and handled Farrington. They also won at the Waiakea Invitational, no scores in hand.

> Plus: The scarcity of seniors will become a trio of G Kellie Okamura, F Kayla Malta and (SURPRISE) Saige Ka‘ahaaina-Torres, the latter being one of the top volleyball players in the state the past two seasons. There are plenty of shooters and fastbreaking playmakers, but a 5-11 post who can really jump and rebound would be a blessing from above for Coach Dean Young and staff. Make it so.

> X factor: Even with the addition of Ka‘ahaaina-Torres and the talented group that includes a rehabbed Shyann Kahalehoe and tough PG Tori Maeda, the absence of Taylor Wu at the Black and Gold tourney is undeniable. As a sophomore, she helped spark a huge effort by an undermanned Raiders team in the ILH playoffs. They nearly beat Kamehameha in what amounted to a play-in game for the state tourney.

Waiakea Warriors (4-2)
W 67-21 Ka‘u 11/09 nonconference
W 52-28 Keaau 11/10 nonconference
W 57-28 Keaau 11/11 nonconference
L 46-41 Mid-Pacific 11/16 Waiakea Invitational
W 61-52 Mililani 11/17 Waiakea Invitational
L 55-47 ‘Iolani 11/18 Waiakea Invitational
@ Maryknoll 11/29 nonconference
Roosevelt 11/30 Sacred Hearts Invitational

> The skinny: This is one of the many teams I’ve yet to watch play. Coach Brandon Kauhi and his staff have been active with offseason training, starting the B-Elite basketball program for year-round play.

> Plus: The roster has no seniors, four juniors, six sophomores and two freshmen. “We have lots of potential, but we’re far from it,” Kauhi said. Nine of the Warriors travelled to play in Las Vegas last summer with Hawaii Elite, coached by Kauhi.

> X factor: Kelsie Imai, a sophomore, is the Warriors’ floor leader. Her sisters, Kirsty and Kamie, were All-BIIF hoopsters.


  1. Frank Mauz November 24, 2017 7:38 am

    With 11 seniors and the experience of playing in high quality preseason tournaments, Maryknoll looks like a cinch to win the ILH and state tournament. This could be the best girls basketball team ever in Hawaii because no team has had this kind of depth.

    Cherilyn is still by far the best player in Hawaii and I love those two guards from Lahainaluna.

    Mid-Pacific cruised last year in the Div II championship game, but will have a tougher time this season in the ILH Div I fast lane. Seems like the elite 8 in your poll will be Maryknoll, Kamehameha, Konawaena, Lahainaluna, Iolani, Punahou, Mid-Pacific and Sacred Hearts.

    What has happened to the OIA? With Mona retiring from Kaimuki, it may be competitve, but no fun to watch.

  2. Dat Bigga Jigga November 24, 2017 6:03 pm

    Best over? Now that is just crazy.

  3. Paul Honda November 29, 2017 1:23 pm

    The Wizard of Mauz!!

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