Saints still marching: D-II down to final four

Honokaa guard Kayla Branco brought the ball up court in the first of two wins in the state tournament for the Dragons heading into the semis. Photo by Bruce Asato/Star-Advertiser.

The Saints keep marching and Hawaii Baptist is out of contention as the semifinal round of the Snapple/HHSAA Girls Basketball Division II State Championships tonight.

St. Francis eliminated the hustling Knights of Castle 63-43 on Thursday in quarterfinal action at Kaimuki. In the other quarter there, Honokaa made it two wins in two nights, edging KIF champion Kauai 28-26.

In the other sub-bracket at Kalani, second-seeded Kamehameha-Hawaii rolled over Le Jardin 53-21 and third-seeded Roosevelt ousted ILH runner-up Hawaii Baptist 35-29 in overtime.

Below, tonight’s semifinal matchups with overall (including nonconference games) and regular-season records.

Kamehameha-Hawaii Warriors (14-4, 6-4 BIIF) vs. Roosevelt Rough Riders (10-9, 6-4 OIA East), 7 p.m., Kaimuki gym
Seed: No. 2 (BIIF champion). Def.
Vs. Top 10: 2-3 (.400).
Strength of schedule: 5 of 18 games (28 percent) were vs. Top 10 (or similar level) teams.
Top 10 wins: Hawaii Baptist, Mid-Pacific.
Losses (Non-Top 10*): @ Honokaa*, Waiakea, Hilo, Konawaena.

Seed: No. 3 (OIA champion). Def. Hawaii Baptist 35-29 on Thursday (quarterfinal).
Vs. Top 10: 1-5 (.167).
Strength of schedule: 6 of 19 games (32 percent) were vs. Top 10 teams.
Top 10 wins: Hawaii Baptist.
Losses (Non-Top 10*): Hawaii Baptist, @ Campbell, @ Radford*, Waiakea, Kamehameha-Maui*, Kaiser*, Kahuku, @ Kalani, Kaimuki*.

Skinny: Huge win for the rising Rough Riders on Thursday against HBA, which is ranked No. 9 in the Star-Advertiser Top 10. Kaonohi Quinlan had a monster game on the glass with 11 rebounds, along with six points and four assists. That’s two point guards who grabbed 11 boards last night. (The other is Konawaena’s Cherilyn Molina.)

Sadie Ann Luiz had a team-high 10 points and Sunshine Vicente corralled nine rebounds.

The Warriors advanced with a 53-21 win over Le Jardin. KS-Hawaii led 29-9 at the half and got a chance to save their starters’ legs. Sorta. PG Dominique Pacheco logged 30 minutes (six points, eight assists, four steals). Jordyn Mantz (14 points) logged a modest 24 minutes and McKenzie Kalawaia played 23. Nobody else played more than 20. That’s how a 2-seed has an advantage on a 3-seed most years.

Saydee Aganus, the much heralded post scorer for KS-Hawaii, logged just 20 minutes and had 12 points with seven rebounds.

X-factor: These teams did not meet in preseason, but even with games in nearby gyms, it’s not easy to figure out who could step up. KS-Hawaii’s Hera Salmon was 3-for-3 from the arc, scoring 11 points in just 16 minutes last night. Scouting makes a difference, but it would take some real, season-long observation to have an idea of who to lock down on.

St. Francis Saints (24-0, 15-0 ILH D-II) vs. Honokaa Dragons, 5 p.m., Kaimuki gym
St. Francis
Seed: No. 1 (ILH champion, defending state champion). Def. Castle 64-43 on Thursday (quarterfinal).
Vs. Top 10: 4-0 (1.000).
Strength of schedule: 4 of 24 games (17 percent) were vs. Top 10 (or similar level) teams.
Top 10 wins: Sacred Hearts. Punahou, @ Hawaii Baptist, Hawaii Baptist.
Losses (Non-Top 10*): None.

Seed: Unseeded (BIIF runner-up). Def. Seabury Hall 32-13 on Wednesday. Def. Kauai 28-26 on Thursday (quarterfinal).
Vs. Top 10: 0-4 (.000).
Strength of schedule: 4 of 17 games (24 percent) were vs. Top 10 teams.
Top 10 wins: None.
Losses (Non-Top 10*): Campbell, Waiakea, Waiakea, @ Hilo*, Konawaena, Kamehameha-Hawaii*.

Skinny: This is a situation where the Dragons might not have been ready for the Saints back in November or December. Now, they’ve improved to the point that they how to grind a game out. After splitting games with No. 2 seed KS-Hawaii, Honokaa won’t back down. Though it’s been a few years, the Dragons won the D-II state corn in 2014 and ’15.

Kayla Branco scored 10 points in the narrow win over Kauai and sophomore PG Shaleina Bird (four points, four steals) is among the steadiest floor leaders in the bracket.

The Saints got balanced scoring from Nani Santos (15 points), Mata Sagapolutele (13 points, eight rebounds), Kaimi Kalei (11) and Kawena Kalani (eight). They committed 20 turnovers, but outrebounded Castle 40-28.

St. Francis might not have their slickest team ever, but Coach Chris Hoe has the Saints doing what is essential: playing defense, boxing out, rebounding, getting high-percentage shots. They took just four 3-point shots last night. Didn’t make any. Didn’t need to. They shot 45 percent from the field, which is good enough at the prep level most nights.

X-factor: Honokaa’s tradition and toughness will be factors. No team has really matched up well with the Saints except one, Hawaii Baptist.

HBA’s loss to Roosevelt in the quarterfinals yesterday was an upset on paper. Ally Wada played, 12 days after suffering a head/neck injury against St. Francis. She was not her usual self, and Roosevelt’s defense had a big role in that. Wada shot 1-for-22 from the field, and as hellacious as the Roosevelt defense can be, there’s no doubt the injury on Jan. 20 played a role. HBA loses Wada to graduation soon, and she’ll play volleyball at USF. They’ll return a solid nucleus that pushed St. Francis to the hilt after Wada got hurt.

Kauai came to the tourney with a sterling resume, just one loss (St. Francis). This is where the seeding gets tricky and, ultimately, sort of washes out. The third seed is Roosevelt, which arguably might not be a better team than fourth seed Kauai. But Roosevelt was paired with Hawaii Baptist, a team that has been in the Top 10 all season with some quality wins. Honokaa is talented and tough, but not a better team than HBA on paper. But with Wada not at 100 percent, maybe that changes the balance. Maybe it worked out best for the Rough Riders after all.

With two teams in the D-II semifinals (Kamehameha-Hawaii, Honokaa) and two teams in the D-I semifinals (Konawaena, Waiakea), the BIIF has more representation, percentage-wise, than any other league.

D-I: Maryknoll (ILH), Lahainaluna (MIL), Konawaena (BIIF), Waiakea (BIIF).

D-II: St. Francis (ILH), Roosevelt (OIA), KS-Hawaii (BIIF), Honokaa (BIIF).

The difference between the BIIF teams wasn’t very big. Konawaena swept Waiakea, but barely won a home game 38-35 over the Warriors. KS-Hawaii lost at Honokaa 29-28 during the regular season, then beat the Dragons 32-29 in the title game.

With ‘Iolani out, Kamehameha not qualifying, the OIA full of parity but overall not at an elite level — like the it was during the aughts — and the MIL short on balance, the re-emergence of the BIIF is not unique. During those aughts, there were several years when the top five to six teams were equal to or stronger than the ILH’s top five to six.

Many of Waiakea’s players — none are seniors — have year-round club play locally, plus summer travel. Same with Lahainaluna and the Menehune program, which Coach Todd Rickard patterned after the Kona Stingrays of Donald and Bobbie Awa (Konawaena).

On Oahu, at the youth levels, there are leagues that are lacking numbers for girls divisions. It still comes down to training and commitment, and right now, the Big Island seems to have the slight edge on the OIA and MIL, and is on even footing, all things considered, with the ILH.

Division II schedule

Match #DateMatchupTime/ScoresSite
1Jan. 31Seabury Hall vs. HonokaaHon, 32-13Kaimuki
2Jan. 31Castle vs. UniversityCast, 63-52Kaimuki
3Jan. 31Pearl City vs. Hawaii BaptistHBA, 40-9Kalani
4Jan. 31Waipahu vs. Le JardinLeJ, 43-38Kalani
5*Feb. 1Seabury Hall vs. UniversityULS, 49-28Kaimuki
6*Feb. 1Pearl City vs. WaipahuWaip 35, PC 27Kalani
7Feb. 1(4) Kauai vs. HonokaaHon, 28-26Kaimuki
8Feb. 1(1) St. Francis vs. CastleStF, 63-43Kaimuki
9Feb. 1(2) KS-Hawaii vs. Le JardinKSH, 53-21Kalani
10Feb. 1(3) Roosevelt vs. Hawaii BaptistRoos, 35-29 (OT)Kalani
11*Feb. 2University vs. WaipahuWaip, 43-27Blaisdell Arena
12*Feb. 2Kauai vs. CastleKauai, 39-36Kalani
13*Feb. 2Le Jardin vs. Hawaii BaptistHBA, 40-29Kalani
14Feb. 2KS-Hawaii vs. RooseveltKSH, 51-25Kaimuki
15Feb. 2Honokaa vs. St. FrancisStF, 28-22Kaimuki
16*Feb. 3Kauai vs. Hawaii BaptistHBA, 49-23Blaisdell Arena
17*Feb. 3Roosevelt vs. HonokaaRoos, 41-32Blaisdell Arena
18Feb. 3KS-Hawaii vs. St. FrancisKSH, 41-32Blaisdell Arena
* — consolation


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