Top 10 girls hoops showdowns we might never see

Waiakea's Kelsie Imai will remain in Hawaii to play collegiate basketball for the Rainbow Wahine. Photo by Andrew Lee/Special to the Star-Advertiser.

It won’t be long at all now.

The girls basketball season began as early as ever, and in just 11 days, it will be over with the state tournament finals. Even then, there are matchups that can’t, or won’t happen. From schools within a country mile of each other, to crosstown rivals, here are 10 (and more) games I’d like to see.

(Note: This post was written before the BIIF playoffs began.)

‘Iolani vs. Konawaena. Just curious. Are the Raiders still 28 points better than the Wildcats? Or was that preseason game at McKinley’s tournament an anomaly? My gut says it would be a closer game if these teams meet in the state tourney.

Hilo vs. Waiakea. Observers on the Big Island say Hilo is great, but they haven’t traveled in preseason, haven’t qualified for states. They haven’t quite reach the same heights since Onaona Miller was a freshman phenom and Vicky Tagalicod laced up and tore through the BIIF. But I would love to see this matchup if and when it happens again, which will be… tonight in the league semifinals at the Afook-Chinen Hilo Civic.

(Note: Waiakea won this matchup on Tuesday night, 54-50, in overtime, to clinch a state-tournament berth.)

Seabury Hall vs. King Kekaulike. Basically neighbors, the Spartans of Olinda and Na Alii of Pukalani, and yet they rarely face each other. How is this possible? Shouldn’t this be an automatic preseason game? Throw out the classifications, these are two solid programs in rural Maui and I’m prepared to say this should be an annual series. The Haleakala Trophy. Winners get a box of cream puffs from Komoda Store and Bakery. How’s that sound? 

Seabury Hall vs. Lahainaluna. Early season Lunas would have possibly lost and lost big to the Spartans. The current Lunas have found their footing, and with their depth and development would probably be too deep in a neutral-court matchup against the Spartans. This is another fantastic matchup that simply doesn’t exist. Why not?

Here’s feedback from radio and TV play-by-play man Jordan Helle: “I’d love to see Seabury and Lahainaluna. We missed out on some potentially great games when Molokai had their state title run with Kaleo Adolpho right about the same time as the Lunas won their title with Maiki Viela.”

Waimea vs. Kahuku. Yes, on paper the OIA should dominate any KIF team. But Waimea reached the D-II state semifinals last year and is on the verge of repeating as KIF champ. They’re not big, not imposing, but quick, tough and skilled. Kauai beat them twice, which only means that youth hoops in Lihue and outlying areas are improving drastically under Red Raiders coach Clarence Sales. Waimea got better because of Kauai, and I would expect the Menehunes (yes, that’s how the school spells it) would give Kahuku a tougher game than anyone in the OIA has this season.

Kauai vs. Mid-Pacific. The Owls should win this, but I’d just want to see a good Kauai squad get a taste of the postseason. It’s only fair that the three-team KIF has just one state berth, except in years like this when they have two quality teams. And yes, the Red Raiders of Lihue could possibly win this matchup. 

Punahou vs. Maui. The Buffanblu have improved significantly, but in the ILH, that doesn’t show a lot in the win-loss column. Maui has come a long way, and with wins over Seabury Hall, Lahainaluna and King Kekaulike — all currently or previously ranked in the Top 10 — the Sabers clearly can give the Buffanblu a battle. 

Maui vs. Radford. Currently the second best team from the MIL, and the top team from the OIA West. (Note: Since this post was written, King Kekaulike defeated Maui in the second-round semifinals. Maui and King Kekaulike will play on Thursday for the MIL’s second state-tournament berth.)

Waiakea vs. ‘Iolani. We may get this matchup in the state semifinal, or if Waiakea wins the BIIF, it could be a state final, outright. Waiakea didn’t travel to Oahu this season, but did travel to the continent and fared well with two wins and one close loss. New coach Alika Smith vs. Raiders coach Dean Young.

Kahuku vs. Kamehameha. This would’ve been the Bruiser battle of the state tourney with a healthy Lagi Sua-Godinet, but the Warriors lost in the ILH playoffs.

King Kekaulike vs. Nanakuli. They could combine for 50 3-point attempts. Charge up those camera batteries! 

Time machine requests. Who would I want to see play from the past? So many teams. Here are a few.
Aiea — Aritta Lane era.
Farrington — Brydgette Leopoldo/Kirsten Liana era.
Hilo — Kaui Wakita, Onaona Miller, Vicky Tagalicod eras.
Honokaa — Kahea Schuckert, Keisha Kanekoa eras.
Kahuku — Latoya Wily era.
Kaimuki — Fa‘asoa sisters, Victoria Kintz eras.
Kalaheo — Brandy Richardson/Sharon Wahinekapu era.
Kohala — Lynette Liu era. Also Annette Marquez/Kim Caravalho era.
Konawaena — Nine state championships (and counting) era.
Lahainaluna — Maiki Viela/Milika Taufa era.
McKinley — Amber Lee era.
Nanakuli — Maricris Sierra era.
Punahou — Shawna Kuehu/Shaena Kuehu, Shanna-Lei Dacanay, Janelle Nomura eras.
Roosevelt — Iwalani Rodrigues era.
University — Lisa Mann era.
Waianae — Thia Palakiko era.

Of course, this isn’t a list of all-time best players. Just off the top of this pupule head. There will be more. Now where is that time machine?


  1. Energizerbunny January 31, 2020 11:16 am

    Would love to see the matchups you suggested.

  2. really January 31, 2020 8:42 pm

    What are you talking about? Hilo has achieved the same heights that Vicky Tagolicod has. Tagolicod never made states at all. This year’s Hilo team never made states.

    So what heights are you talking about when both Hilo teams never made it to states? Isn’t that the same?

  3. Paul Honda February 4, 2020 10:03 am

    Good point, “really.” Let me be more specific. When Onaona Miller was a freshman, she and the Viks came to Konawaena and won. Handily. Konawaena was good, but Hilo was better. Maybe that’s not “heights” to you, so let me reword that to “accomplished.” I don’t recall Hilo beating Konawaena at Konawaena since — I could be wrong — though its teams of the past 10 years have been very, very, very solid. Better than almost all OIA teams over the same span. The Ben Pana teams, in particular. Hilo is good enough to reach the final four of this year’s state tourney, but the HHSAA has its ratio rule…

  4. Sting Rays February 4, 2020 1:07 pm

    Kaimuki era never got past quarter finals in D II championship last time held in Hilo
    Mid Pacific Owl gave them a clinic in Waiakea gym!

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