Pupule ballot: Sabers rattle roundball cage

Maryknoll's Rhianne Omori scored 22 points to lead the Spartans over Oregon City for third place during the third-place game of the Iolani Classic in the 'Iolani Classic. Photo by Steven Erler/Special to the Star-Advertiser.

Once again, Maryknoll is a unanimous pick at No. 1 in the Star-Advertiser Girls Basketball Top 10 this week. On my ballot, there’s one distinct change: Campbell. The Sabers pass my litmus test.

Once we get below the Elite Teams (Maryknoll, Kamehameha); the A-/B+ teams that have championship talent and development labs (post underclassmen — Konawaena, Lahainaluna, ‘Iolani; the unbeaten, somewhat disrespected D-II program that beat two ranked teams soundly (St. Francis); the overachievers (Punahou, Waiakea)… we have Campbell. Of all the teams in Campbell’s on-the-cusp zone below the No. 8 spot, only the Sabers have beaten a team in the Top 5 (Lahainaluna).

Honolulu Star-Advertiser Top 10

SOFTBALL
Updated: Mar. 16
RkTeamPts
t1.Campbell (3)87
t1.Mililani (2)87
3.'Iolani (5)84
4.Kamehameha70
5.Mid-Pacific52
6.Kapolei48
7.Maryknoll33
8.Punahou21
9.Pearl City16
10.Baldwin14

Pupule BKG ballot 12/10/17
1. Maryknoll Spartans (13-1, 2-0 ILH)

Pupule ranking last week: No. 1.
Last week’s games
W 68-34 @ No. 10 Mid-Pacific 12/4
W 56-25 @ No. 6 Punahou 12/5
W 67-59 Miramonte (Calif.) 12/7
L 63-39 Southridge (Ore.) 12/8
W 62-49 Oregon City (Ore.) 12/9
Vs. Top 10: 7-1.
Top 10 wins: Lahainaluna, Konawaena, Waiakea, @ Mid-Pacific, @ Punahou, Miramonte (Calif.), Oregon City (Ore.).
Losses (Non-Top 10*): Southridge (Ore.).
Skinny: Five games (and four quality wins) in a six-day span? For the deep, experienced Spartans, it had to be fun, even with a loss to defending Oregon 6A state champion Southridge.


2. Kamehameha Warriors (11-1, 1-0 ILH)
Pupule ranking last week: No. 2.
Last week’s games
W 70-37 No. 9 Sacred Hearts 12/7
Vs. Top 10: 3-1.
Top 10 wins: Waiakea, Sacred Hearts, @ Punahou.
Losses (Non-Top 10*): Lahainaluna.
Skinny: Their lone loss came with two starters sidelined by injuries. There are only two other team with as many Top 10 wins: Maryknoll (seven) and Konawaena (four). There’s an argument to be made that Kamehameha’s quality wins are against the lower half of the Top 10, but they’ve come through consistently against every foe but one.

3. St. Francis Saints (11-0, 3-0 ILH D-II)
Pupule ranking last week: No. 3.
Last week’s games
W 62-20 Le Jardin 12/5
W 64-32 University 12/9
Vs. Top 10: 2-0.
Top 10 wins: Sacred Hearts. Punahou.
Losses (Non-Top 10*): None.
Skinny: Even if the non-Top 10 wins are melted away, what more would be expected of the Saints? They’ve played two ranked teams and beaten them by double-digit margins. Nobody really cares about rankings, right? I still maintain that polls like this have the nutritional value of whipped cream. They also require some sense of logic and art within the approach for each voter. As with most D-II teams playing exclusively against D-II opponents in league play, it’s a low-ceiling, low-floor scenario when it comes to rankings. Any loss in league play will create an avalanche by voters. That is, unless a team like Hawaii Baptist emerges in the Top 10, and a loss to a good HBA team won’t be quite so punishing. I think. At some point, a whole lot of teams will stock up on quality wins, and the two that St. Francis currently has may become weaker evidence, especially if Punahou and Sacred Hearts slip significantly.

4. Lahainaluna Lunas (8-4, 2-0 MIL)
Pupule ranking last week: No. 4.
Last week’s games
W 62-19 @ Baldwin 12/6
W 64-23 King Kekaulike 12/9
Vs. Top 10: 2-4.
Top 10 wins: Kamehameha, @ Konawaena.
Losses (Non-Top 10*): ‘Iolani, Maryknoll, Punahou, Campbell.
Skinny: The win over Kamehameha is skewed a skosh because the Warriors had two starters sidelined by injuries. Then there’s the loss to then-unranked Campbell, which then lost by 30 to Konawaena. Lahainaluna has all the elements to challenge for a state tile. Time is on their side.

5. Konawaena Wildcats (8-2, 0-0 BIIF)
Pupule ranking last week: No. 5.
Last week’s games No games
Vs. Top 10: 4-2.
Top 10 wins: Sacred Hearts, ‘Iolani, ‘Iolani, Mid-Pacific.
Losses (Non-Top 10*): Maryknoll, Lahainaluna.
Skinny: The four wins over Top 10 teams is something I overlooked last week. But the home loss to Lahainaluna is difficult to ignore. The 5-spot makes sense this way: Konawaena is behind the teams it has lost to and ahead of the teams it has defeated. Their four SOS-positive wins are against the lower half of the Top 10, while a team like Maryknoll has seven Top 10 wins across the board.

6. ‘Iolani Raiders (7-4, 0-0 ILH)
Pupule ranking last week: No. 6.
Last week’s games
L 56-54 Oregon City (Ore.) 12/7
L 60-52 Naha Senior (Okinawa) 12/8
W 65-35 Kalani 12/9
Vs. Top 10: 2-4.
Top 10 wins: Lahainaluna, @ Waiakea.
Losses (Non-Top 10*): Konawaena, Konawaena, Oregon City (Ore.), Naha Senior (Okinawa).
Skinny: The loss to Okinawa powerhouse Naha Senior could’ve been staggering, but Naha wound up beating a good Miramonte team, too. Definitely a case to be made that the Raiders belong ahead of Lahainaluna, but two losses to Konawaena makes that bridge tough to cross.

7. Punahou Buffanblu (8-3, 0-2 ILH)
Pupule ranking last week: No. 7.
Last week’s games
L 56-25 No. 1 Maryknoll 12/5
L 52-42 No. 2 Kamehameha 12/9
Vs. Top 10: 1-3.
Top 10 wins: Lahainaluna.
Losses (Non-Top 10*): St. Francis, Maryknoll, Kamehameha.
Skinny: Classic case of a good team losing to better teams. Not enough cause to drop them any further on this ballot. Take away the close margins of victory and there’s a case to be made that Punahou should be ahead of Lahainaluna and Konawaena. The Buffanblu remain ahead of Campbell, another team that has beaten Lahainaluna, because they have not lost to an unranked team yet.

8. Campbell Sabers (8-2, 2-0 OIA)
Pupule ranking last week: Unranked.
Last week’s games
W 55-40 @ Waipahu 12/5
W 55-54 Kapolei 12/7
Vs. Top 10: 1-1.
Top 10 wins: Lahainaluna.
Losses (Non-Top 10*): Hawaii Baptist*, @ Konawaena.
Skinny: I’m a believer now. As a voter, I’m still looking for some separation by the Sabers from the rest of the OIA West. The OIA is wide, wide open, and the opportunity for programs like Campbell is there to assert, conquer and dominate. Like Sacred Hearts, the Sabers have a loss to a good, but unranked Hawaii Baptist team. However, what separates Campbell from the rest of the teams at this level of the rankings is that they’ve beaten a Top 5 team (Lahainaluna).

9. Waiakea Warriors (6-4, 0-0 BIIF)
Pupule ranking last week: No. 9.
Last week’s games: No games.
Vs. Top 10: 1-4.
Top 10 wins: @ Sacred Hearts.
Losses (Non-Top 10*): Mid-Pacific, ‘Iolani, @ Maryknoll, Kamehameha.
Skinny: This team is extremely young (no seniors, four juniors). Coach Brandon Kauhi doesn’t want his team to settle for less, but there’s no question the Warriors will likely near their peak next year rather than this year.

10. Sacred Hearts Lancers (8-5, 1-1 ILH)
Pupule ranking last week: No. 10.
Last week’s games
L 70-37 @ No. 2 Kamehameha 12/7
W 73-70 No. 10 Mid-Pacific 12/9
Vs. Top 10: 1-4.
Top 10 wins: Mid-Pacific.
Losses (Non-Top 10*): Konawaena, St. Francis, Hawaii Baptist*, Waiakea, @ Kamehameha.
Skinny: The Lancers rise one notch on my ballot after eking out a homecourt win over MPI. That ILH is one tough scramble.

11. Mid-Pacific Owls (5-6, 0-2 ILH)
Pupule ranking last week: Unranked.
Last week’s games
L 68-34 No. 1 Maryknoll 12/4
L 73-70 @ No. 6 Sacred Hearts 12/9
Vs. Top 10: 1-3.
Top 10 wins: @ Waiakea.
Losses (Non-Top 10*): @ Moanalua*, Konawaena, Hilo*, Kamehameha-Hawaii*, Maryknoll, @ Sacred Hearts.
Skinny: The Owls move to D-I is interesting. They clearly are competing at a high level — a sekiwake-level squad that could be an ozeki soon, but not quite there with the yokozunas. The win at Waiakea is prominent, but the losses to unranked Moanalua, Hilo and Kamehameha-Hawaii detract. Don’t be surprised of those three teams wind up in the Top 10 at some point this winter. The Owls’ list of wins includes Mililani (54-49) and Kaiser (38-19).

12. Kamehameha-Hawaii Warriors (4-0, 0-0 BIIF)
Pupule ranking last week: Unranked.
Last week’s games: No games
Vs. Top 10: 1-0.
Top 10 wins: Mid-Pacific.
Losses (Non-Top 10*): None.
Skinny: Though the Warriors haven’t made contact with many ranked teams, they have a close win over once-ranked Mid-Pacific (34-31), and the wins over HBA (30-23), Kaiser (51-43) are as close as anyone can get to knocking on that door without barging in. KS-Hawaii has also beaten Kamehameha II (61-38). I wish I’d gotten a chance to see them. (Someone please send the Kaiser tournament schedule to me next year.) The Warriors are in D-II, but will probably finish top 4 in the BIIF’s integrated standings. Konawaena, Waiakea and Hilo are as good or better than KS-Hawaii right now, and that could change.

13. Hawaii Baptist Eagles (10-4, 1-0 ILH D-II)
Pupule ranking last week: Unranked.
Last week’s games
W 48-35 ‘Iolani II 12/9
Vs. Top 10: 1-3.
Top 10 wins: @ Sacred Hearts.
Losses (Non-Top 10*): Kamehameha-Hawaii*, @ ‘Iolani, Sacred Hearts, Kamehameha.
Skinny: Another smaller program with big-program skills. The lone non-Top 10 loss (to KS-Hawaii) might take on a different flavor soon. KS-Hawaii has a chance to launch into the poll.


14. Hilo Vikings (5-2, 1-0 BIIF)
Pupule ranking last week: Unranked.
Last week’s games
W 60-21 @ Hawaii Prep 12/6
Vs. Top 10: 1-1.
Top 10 wins: Mid-Pacific.
Losses (Non-Top 10*): Mililani*, ‘Iolani.
Skinny: After reaching the state tourney for several years in a row, the Vikings are unranked while Waiakea is in the poll. That first meeting between the two rivals should be quite interesting.

15. Moanalua Na Menehune (8-6, 2-0 OIA)
Pupule ranking last week: Unranked.
Last week’s games
W 68-27 Kalaheo 12/5
W 54-16 @ Castle 12/7
Vs. Top 10: 1-4.
Top 10 wins: Mid-Pacific.
Losses (Non-Top 10*): Punahou, Mililani*, @ Sacred Hearts, St. Francis, Lahainaluna, Hilo*.
Skinny: That’s one heck of a deep and tough nonconference schedule. The non-Top 10 losses are to teams fairly close on the cusp: Mililani and Hilo. They lack quality wins (Top 10), but clearly Na Menehune are one of the best teams in the OIA East.

16. Kamehameha-Maui Warriors (4-2, 1-1 MIL)
Pupule ranking last week: Unranked.
Last week’s games
W 42-29 Maui 12/9
Vs. Top 10: 0-2.
Top 10 wins: None.
Losses (Non-Top 10*): @ Lahainaluna, Kamehameha.
Skinny: Very competitive, nearing the cusp. The Pukalani campus has beaten Roosevelt (43-41), Kaiser (37-33) and Mililani (42-34).

17. Kalani Falcons (4-6, 1-0 OIA)
Pupule ranking last week: Unranked.
Last week’s games
W 59-39 Kaimuki 12/5
L 66-39 Southridge (Ore.) 12/7
L 64-34 Miramonte (Calif.) 12/8
L 65-35 No. 5 ‘Iolani 12/9
Vs. Top 10: 0-6.
Top 10 wins: None.
Losses (Non-Top 10*): Maryknoll, Kamehameha, Punahou, Southridge (Ore.), Miramonte (Calif.), ‘Iolani.
Skinny: The Falcons might lead the state in most lopsided wins and lopsided losses. Only one game has been close either way. They bounced back strong after losing to powerful teams to start nonconference play. Now that they’re coming off three losses to three more potent programs, the Falcons may inflict their frustration on OIA foes.

Under pupule consideration

McKinley Tigers (7-4, 1-0 OIA)
Pupule ranking last week: Unranked.
Last week’s games
W 47-26 Castle 12/5
Vs. Top 10: 0-4.
Top 10 wins: None.
Losses (Non-Top 10*): Kamehameha, Punahou, Sacred Hearts, St. Francis.
Skinny: The Lady Tigers are a team on the rise, and though the slew of great competition at the Black and Gold Classic was a sometimes painful experience, it set the bar. Coach Donald Kamai’s team has won six in a row, including last week’s OIA East opener. Up next: an East showdown with Kalani.

Kapolei Hurricanes (7-4, 0-2 OIA)
Pupule ranking last week: Unranked.
Last week’s games
L 34-23 Nanakuli 12/5
L 55-54 @ Campbell 12/7
Vs. Top 10: 0-4.
Top 10 wins: None.
Losses (Non-Top 10*): Roosevelt*, St. Francis, Nanakuli*, Campbell.
Skinny: The early four-game win streak to start nonconference play has been tapered by losses to Roosevelt, and the current three-game losing streak. That includes a loss to the same Nanakuli team that the ‘Canes beat in early November. The losses aren’t stunners, though, because they were to competitive teams. Roosevelt will challenge in the East. St. Francis is 11-0. Nanakuli has been a steady playoff qualifier in recent seasons. Campbell is in the Top 10 for the first time this season.

Mililani Trojans (4-7, 1-0 OIA)
Pupule ranking last week: Unranked.
Last week’s games
L 48-30 @ Leilehua 12/7
Vs. Top 10: 0-7.
Top 10 wins: None.
Losses (Non-Top 10*): @ Maryknoll, Maryknoll, Mid-Pacific, @ Waiakea, Konawaena, Hawaii Baptist*, Kamehameha-Maui*.
Skinny: That’s a heck of a brutal nonconference schedule, so the losing record requires much interpretation. The losses to Waiakea, Konawaena, and very competitive HBA and KS-Maui teams were all relatively close.

Radford Rams (3-4, 2-0 OIA)
Pupule ranking last week: Unranked.
Last week’s games
W 35-21 @ Nanakuli 12/7
W 33-24 Leilehua 12/9
Vs. Top 10: 0-4.
Top 10 wins: None.
Losses (Non-Top 10*): Punahou, Lahainaluna, Maryknoll, Kamehameha.
Skinny: The Rams found out where they stand right away with a string of tough competition at the Moanalua Peek tourney. (Note: Lahainaluna, playing in two tournaments simultaneously, used its JV team.) All four losses in nonconference play were to ranked teams. Now the Lady Rams are better from the lessons and taking it out on the West. Beating Nanakuli at Nanakuli is never easy, and a win over perennial West powerhouse Leilehua is also uplifting.

Kahuku Red Raiders (3-6, 2-0 OIA)
Pupule ranking last week: Unranked.
Last week’s games
W 65-47 Farrington 12/5
W 50-44 @ Kaimuki 12/7
Vs. Top 10: 0-4.
Top 10 wins: None.
Losses (Non-Top 10*): @ Sacred Hearts, @ Kamehameha, @ Maryknoll, @ Konawaena, Hilo*, Lahainaluna.
Skinny: It was a tough nonconference slate, which included a trip to the Konawaena Invitational. Kahuku is very, very, very young, but Coach LaToya Wily intends to build the program for top-level success by facing the best competition rather than softening expectations. So far, so good after OIA East wins last week over Farrington and Kaimuki.

Nanakuli Golden Hawks (4-8, 1-1 OIA)
Pupule ranking last week: Unranked.
Last week’s games
W 34-23 @ Kapolei 12/5
L 35-21 Radford 12/7
Vs. Top 10: 0-2.
Top 10 wins: None.
Losses (Non-Top 10*): Hawaii Baptist*, Kapolei*, @ Kamehameha, @ Moanalua*, Kapolei*, Punahou, @ Kalani*, Radford*.
Skinny: It has been an up-and-down season so far, for sure, but after losing to Kapolei twice in preseason, the Hawks beat the Hurricanes in their OIA West opener last week. On the road. That’s progress and there’s a long, winding road head.


Roosevelt Rough Riders (3-5, 1-1 OIA)
Pupule ranking last week: Unranked.
Last week’s games
W forfeit @ Kailua 12/5
L 51-49 Kaiser 12/7
Vs. Top 10: 0-2.
Top 10 wins: None.
Losses (Non-Top 10*): @ Campbell, @ Radford*, Waiakea, Kamehameha-Maui*, Kaiser*.
Skinny: Another team with a fairly tough non-conference schedule. The non-Top 10 losses are building blocks: Radford is competitive, KS-Maui is the second-best team in the MIL and Kaiser is competitive.

Kaiser Cougars (3-6, 1-0 OIA)
Pupule ranking last week: Unranked.
Last week’s games
W 51-49 @ Roosevelt 12/7
Vs. Top 10: 0-4.
Top 10 wins: None.
Losses (Non-Top 10*): Lahainaluna, Maryknoll, Mid-Pacific, Kamehameha-Hawaii*, Punahou, @ Kamehameha-Maui*.
Skinny: Whatever the Cougars are doing, they need more of it. The rough gauntlet in nonconference play has sharpened Kaiser. The loss to Lahainaluna? The Lunas used their JV team. But after that, it’s been a steady rise toward the peak. KS-Hawaii is tough. A close loss to Punahou. A close loss to a very good KS-Maui team. The win over Roosevelt on the road really wasn’t a surprise.

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