In a different galaxy, the hoop fanatics among us who aren’t on the Big Island would have transported Star Trek style to Afook-Chinen Hilo Civic Auditorium on Wednesday.
Four games in the opening round of the Snapple/HHSAA Girls Basketball Division II State Champions in a classic venue. Beam us up, Scotty!
True, only one game was decided by a single-digit margin and the other three were 12-, 35- and 38-point games. No major surprise there. But the rest of this big dance is worth polishing the Air Jordans for. Here’s a look at the elite eight in Hilo this afternoon.
DAY 2: Quarterfinals
Waimea (10-2, 10-2 KIF) vs. Hanalani (12-2, 8-1 ILH D-II)
Factoids: This is a rematch of the third-place matchup at last year’s tourney, when Waimea won 72-60. This year, Waimea is the No. 3 seed.
The Menehunes didn’t venture beyond the Garden Island in preseason, but they reached the semifinal round last year and aren’t new to tough competition. Kauai’s emergence truly made the season a bit spooky for Waimea.
ILH D-II runner-up Hanalani routed Campbell 64-29 on Wednesday and should be fresh for this battle. The Royals hadn’t played a game in 18 days, but shot 56 percent from the field and got to the free-throw line for 29 attempts. Faith Mersburg stepped up with a double-double (16 points, 10 rebounds) plus seven assists. She also had four steals and shot 6-for-7 from the field.
Promising sophomore Lishae Scanlan had 13 points and nine boards. Charli-Ann Hiers tallied 15 points on 6-for-7 shooting and Maria Ralar hit both of her 3-point bombs to finish with 11 points plus eight rebounds.
Campbell may be quick, but Waimea is a quick and strong with Kaye Serapio (20 ppg) and Kierstin Gummerus (18 ppg). Campbell shot just 23 percent from the field and committed 20 turnovers. Waimea will have more efficiency and test the Royals’ execution. Hanalani had 16 turnovers in Wednesday’s win.
Skinny: This is a semifinal-level matchup in a quarterfinal round. Arguably, the best matchup of the day in Hilo, and a tough pill to swallow for the team that is eliminated from title contention. Hanalani was in a similar scenario as an unseeded state-tourney team last season, beating Kamehameha-Hawaii on day one, then overpowering OIA champion Castle 63-50 in the quarterfinal.
This year’s Waimea squad is strong than Castle was. Conversely, Waimea was unseeded last year, then routed BIIF champ Hawaii Prep 53-14 on day two.
X-factor: Scanlan is a spiderwpman in the paint. Long arms. Rangy. Quick. Stronger than she may appear. The Menehunes don’t have a true counter to Scanlan, but might not need one if they pile up the points as they did in KIF play. X-factor No. 2: free throws. Hanalani shot just 59 percent (17-for-29) against Campbell.
Pupule prediction: At this point, it’s all about matchups. Unless Hanalani uses an NBA-style instant-peelback in transition defense after taking every shot, Waimea will get its fastbreak points in 7 seconds or less again. Pupule says: Menehunes 63, Royals 60.
Mid-Pacific (20-3, 9-0 ILH D-II) vs. Damien (10-7, 4-5 ILH D-II)
Factoids: Damien stifled McKinley 37-25 on Wednesday to advance. The Monarchs and Owls met on Jan. 11 at Mills Gymnasium, where MPI won 54-41. The home team had a 13-point lead after one quarter in a lopsided win. By the time these teams tip off (3 p.m.), 19 days will have passed since Mid-Pacific’s last game.
Skinny: Though the Owls have soared this season, seven of their 20 wins were by 10 points or less. That includes a three-point win at Hanalani, two- and three-point wins over Sacred Hearts, a three-point win over D-I Kalani, and a one-point win at home against Hawaii Baptist. In other words, the Owls are smart, crafty, but beatable. They have the difference maker, scoring guard Madi Sagawa.
Damien has shown flashes of potential. An 11-point loss at Kahuku in preseason. Two wins over Sacred Hearts, including one to qualify for the state tourney.
X-factor: Freshman Teresa Anakalea has been dazzling for the purple and gold, averaging 24 points per game with a season-high 41 against University early in the regular season. However, she shot just 6-for-20 in the win over McKinley, but still finished with 17 points. That was her lowest scoring output since Jan. 11 — in a regular-season loss to Mid-Pacific.
Pupule prediction: The Owls will bottle Anakalea up again, and she will still get to the bucket and to the foul line. If she can raise her game like few ninth graders ever have, this could be a historic night for the Lady Monarchs. Sometimes, the team that played on opening day is warmed up and loose, while the team that got a bye comes out tight and tense. Not in this case. Pupule says: Owls 48, Monarchs 35.
Seabury Hall (19-2, 12-0 MIL D-II) vs. Hawaii Baptist (16-8, 7-2 ILH D-II)
Factoids: This is a rematch of last year’s state final. Unquestionably, another tough-as-nails matchup early in the tournament. The Spartans are seeded second and have proven to be worthy this season. They edged D-II defending state champion HBA 33-29 at the Sacred Hearts Invitational in November. They also beat Radford that week and nearly upset Punahou. They split with another team that reached the Top 10, Maui.
It means nothing now. HBA has skill and experience. The Eagles’ third-place finish in the ILH is also irrelevant at this juncture.
Skinny: Anau Tuiva‘i is a double-double stronghold in the paint, and Ameera Waterford (17 ppg) is a catch-and-shoot 3-point shooter with one of the quickest releases in the state. Leela Waterford, Pio Tuiva‘i, solid on both ends.
HBA is on a six-game win streak, playing its best basketball of the season. The Eagles are 0-3 against Top 10 foes, but might be the hungriest of defending champions. Again, they lost to MPI, the top seed, by one point in the Owls’ gym, a month ago.
X-factor: The starting five of Seabury Hall is elite. The depth issue remains. How much can a group of reserves that never played high school basketball until this season hold down the fort when needed? That’s the big question for the Spartans.
Pupule prediction: Seabury has been the more consistent team, a proven winner off island, with a big (Tuiva‘i) who embraces her role. Pupule says: Spartans 41, Eagles 36.
Kamehameha-Hawaii (11-5, 6-4 BIIF) vs. Farrington (8-6, 5-6 OIA)
Factoids: The Lady Governors were 5-6 in regular-season play, then routed McKinley and Campbell by a combined 40 points to claim the OIA D-II crown. Lorraine Peralta, long-range threat Shaylen Tatupu-Timu and Teizya Telefoni lead the Govs. Telefoni had a game-high 12 points in Wednesday’s win over Lanai.
BIIF champion KS-Hawaii was once a dynastic entity in D-II. With much of the East side talent at Waiakea and Hilo, the Warriors were trounced by D-I powers Konawaena, Waiakea and Hilo. KS-Hawaii still has a formidable scorer in Dominique Pacheco (20 ppg) and a solid scorer in Sarah Schubert (15 ppg).
Skinny: KS-Hawaii is the lowest of the seeded teams, but has a tougher draw than Waimea, Mid-Pacific and, arguably, Seabury Hall. Was it the hometown factor?
X-factor: Farrington is rugged and feisty, a team that never gives up. The OIA champs also shot a mediocre 41 percent from the free-throw line. What in the name of Brydgette Tatupu-Leopoldo is going on? Maybe the influence of Tatupu-Leopoldo, the All-State scorer who has been an assistant coach for several years now, is rubbing off. Farrington was 8-for-12 at the charity stripe against Lanai.
Pupule prediction: If this is a physical battle, the Govs have every opportunity to upset the Warriors. The Big Island, however, is known for heavy doses of foul calls, all by the book when it comes to hand checking. The officiating crew will be balanced, represented by different leagues, but there could still be an effect in Hilo Civic during this featured game. All things being equal, the template for this battle could be KS-Hawaii’s 59-53 win over Honokaa six weeks ago. Pupule says: Warriors 61, Governors 55.
HHSAA D-II State Tournament
|1||Feb. 5||McKinley vs. Damien||DMS, 37-25||Hilo Civic|
|2||Feb. 5||Hanalani vs. Campbell||Han, 64-29||Hilo Civic|
|3||Feb. 5||Farrington vs. Lanai||Far, 44-36||Hilo Civic|
|4||Feb. 5||Hawaii Prep vs. Hawaii Baptist||HBA, 54-16||Hilo Civic|
|5*||Feb. 6||McKinley vs. Lanai||Lan, 46-32||Hilo Civic|
|6||Feb. 6||(3) Waimea vs. Hanalani||Han, 63-60||Hilo Civic|
|7||Feb. 6||(1) Mid-Pacific vs. Damien||MPI, 59-41||Hilo Civic|
|8||Feb. 6||(2) Seabury Hall vs. Hawaii Baptist||HBA, 50-37||Hilo Civic|
|9||Feb. 6||(4) KS-Hawaii vs. Farrington||KSH, 51-37||Hilo Civic|
|10*||Feb. 7||Campbell vs. Hawaii Prep||Camp, 44-12||Hilo Civic|
|11*||Feb. 7||Waimea vs. Seabury Hall||SH, 62-42||Hilo Civic|
|12*||Feb. 7||Damien vs. Farrington||DMS, 51-47||Hilo Civic|
|13||Feb. 7||Hanalani vs. Hawaii Baptist||Han, 52-42||Hilo Civic|
|14||Feb. 7||Mid-Pacific vs. KS-Hawaii||MPI, 32-28||Hilo Civic|
|15*||Feb. 8||Lanai vs. Campbell||Lan, 49-40||Hilo Civic|
|16*||Feb. 8||Seabury Hall vs. Damien||SH, 53-30||Hilo Civic|
|17*||Feb. 8||Hawaii Baptist vs. KS-Hawaii||HBA, 37-29||Hilo Civic|
|18||Feb. 8||Hanalani vs. Mid-Pacific||Han, 40-37||Hilo Civic|
|* — consolation|