A quick run-through of today’s Division I matchups on Day 2, the quarterfinal round of the Hawaiian Airlines/HHSAA Girls Basketball State Championships.
‘Iolani vs. Lahainaluna, 5 p.m.
On paper: The Raiders have played, by far, one of the toughest schedules in the state. The Lunas? They played as many games as possible, even doubling up with two simultaneous tournaments during a trip to Oahu in preseason. But ‘Iolani has notched the bigger headline wins.
The skinny: Lahainaluna is fairly young, reloaded thanks to coach Todd Rickard’s Menehune program in West Maui. They’re physical, fearless and will press from sunup to sundown.
‘Iolani has tapered things this year, paring back the full-throttle, 110-mph fastbreak in favor of more halfcourt sets. The one team that has stymied some of ‘Iolani’s new playbook is Kamehameha. The Raiders haven’t been stopped otherwise, not much.
The Lunas are big enough and physical enough to challenge the Raiders in the post. But challenging bigs like Alex Masaquel, Jade Botelho and reserves Taimane Passi and Alyssa Liilii isn’t the same as stopping them.
X factor: The Lunas can’t afford to get in foul trouble against a good-shooting Raiders squad, but their persistent press could even the scales and make this a much more interesting game than expected. Though Lahainaluna is the seeded team (fourth), the Lunas are No. 9 in the Star-Advertiser Top 10 while ‘Iolani is No. 3.
Up next: The winner will play the Konawaena-Mililani victor on Thursday.
Konawaena vs. Mililani, 7 p.m.
On paper: The top-seeded, two-time defending state champion Wildcats have not played off the Big Island this season, a rarity partly due to the non-invite to the ‘Iolani Classic. Still, coach Bobbie Hanato and her staff always develop talent through the Kona Stingrays pipeline.
The Trojans exploded in the second half yesterday to turn a close game into a blowout against Kaiser. Mililani is the only team to beat Konawaena this season, but keep in mind that three Wildcat starters sat out of that preseason contest.
The skinny: How will Konawaena freshman point guard Chanelle Molina respond to the environment that is the state tourney? It’s an interesting situation. She scored 25 points in the BIIF final against Hilo and from everyone on the Big Island I’ve been in touch with, word is she’s the real deal. Not quite Lia Galdeira as a freshman, but within distance.
Konawaena is and has always been about team play, sharing the ball, cutting backdoor, great man defense. That’s how it was with Galdeira and Dawnyelle Awa for four years. That’s how it was before they began playing varsity ball. I expect it’s the same now as the ‘Cats go after their sixth state title.
Mililani played its starters almost to the end of last night’s game. Coach Patrick Basilio removed his starters with 17 seconds left. Will they have enough gas to play at top speed tonight?
X factor: If referees allow as much contact, bumping and bruising as they did in yesterday’s Mililani-Kaiser game, the Wildcats and their younger players will be in for a rude welcome. It might take a quarter or a half to adjust. Seniors Courtney Kaupu and Hoku Liftee will have to right the ship on every occasion, unless Molina can do it from the point.
If she does that, she may be special, indeed.
Up next: The winner will face the ‘Iolani-Lahainaluna victor on Thursday.
Kamehameha vs. Maui, 5 p.m.
On paper: The Sabers haven’t beaten a team in the Top 10, let alone faced a ranked team, very often in recent years. They did get past Waianae last night in a game that featured a combined 37 missed free throws between the two teams.
The second-seeded Warriors are unbeaten and game-ready, rested and hungry. It’s been 11 years since Kamehameha won the state championships.
The skinny: The Warriors are as deep as they’ve been in some time. Bigs off the bench who can run the fastbreak. Guards who can shoot the 3 and mid-range pull-ups. Point guard Tiare Kanoa may be the best pull-up jump shooter in the state. Alohi Robins-Hardy is a matchup nightmare at 6-1 with handles, a smooth shooting touch and shotblocking ability.
They might not have to rely on perimeter shooting at all if they can pound the ball inside to Lilia Maio, who is normally a deadly-accurate scorer.
X factor: Will the Sabers have enough legs just 24 hours after a big tournament win?
Up next: The winner will face the Leilehua-Hilo winner on Thursday.
Leilehua vs. Hilo, 7 p.m.
On paper: The Pana mojo is in play. Coach Ben Pana and his daughters have the Vikings in the quarterfinals after a stunning win over Roosevelt yesterday. Aliyah Pana had 23 points in the 47-44 win, knocking out a team had been unbeaten during OIA East regular-season play.
The third-seeded Mules are well-rested coming off their first OIA Red championship.
The skinny: The Vikings are smallish and guard-oriented, skilled and quick. The Mules have a nice mix of size in the post, guards who can hit the 3 and mid-range, but there isn’t a whole lot of depth.
If there’s a way to exploit Leilehua’s weakness, Coach Pana, the former Hilo sharpshooter, will find a way.
X factor: The Mules are heady passers, unwilling to take bad shots on most possessions, and that usually kicks up to a higher level when forward Carissa McBride is passing the ball to open 3-pointers from the low post. Her court vision is rare.
Up next: The winner will play the Kamehameha-Maui winner on Thursday.
Paul Honda, Star-Advertiser