I could not help but wonder, in this post-Lia Galdeira-Dawnyelle Awa era at Konawaena, is this going to be a repeat of 2008?
In ’08, the Wildcats were coming off a state title in girls basketball, but the cupboard was almost bare. All the talented four-year starters, like Jessica Hanato and Jazzmin Awa-Williams, had graduated. Sure enough, Konawaena won the BIIF, but fell in the quarterfinals of the state tourney. I remember that game, the talent and hustle of All-State forward Mana Hopkins, who went on to star at HPU.
With Galdeira and Awa now playing at Washington State, would this be a repeat of Hopkins’ senior year? I asked Bobby Command, my former comrade in arms at West Hawaii Today. The former sports editor and city editor has seen just about every Konawaena home game since Bobbie Awa became head coach all those years ago, years that have passed almost within the blink of an eye.
Bobby thinks this squad has an edge on that ’08 Wildcats team.
Chanelle Molina is the second best player in the league behind Courtney Kaupu, one of the state’s 10 best and in the top three among freshmen, if not the best. I didn’t think I would be saying if at this point of the season, but Mercedes “Ihi” Victor is easy a top 10 freshman in the state and the two of them are really starting to remind me of Awa-Galdeira in their freshman years, Victor with the elegance of Awa, and Molina a slashing talent like Lia.
Kona’s only flaw is depth, but with four of the best players in the state and two more than adequate players to fill the No. 5 depth should not be an issue, since they don’t foul the way last year’s team used to pick them up. This group of girls can win it all if they want it. The only question is, do they want it that bad? A loss deep in the tournament is possible, but may also make the younger ones hungry again, just like the loss to Lahaina two years ago which guaranteed that Kona would win the next two. There are more Mana-Thea-Jazzy level players in the pipeline, and if Kona wins this year they may do a five- or six-peat.
You know I could be mistaking supreme confidence for non-chalantness. I thought the run was over last year, but after watching the team this year, I get the same feeling we did when St. Louis football was winning everything. Reload. Reload. Reload. I know a lot of people don’t want to admit it, judging by the way first-team slots are handed out in the BIIF, but when it is all said and done, the Bobbie Awa-Konawaena Wildcats will be mentioned along with Dr. Mark’s Iolani run as the greatest dynasties in Hawaii prep hoops history. Think about it; this has been going on for 10 years with no end in sight. Five titles, two runners-up, one of them in double overtime and I think both losses by a total of 3 points. This is no dusty shelf of poorly-played girls hoops. It is the best level of girls basketball ever played in Hawaii at any time.
During Mana’s senior year, ’08, the team was very well balanced and much deeper, but they did not win the championship. A better comparison is 09 with three hotshot freshmen and two upperclassmen carrying the team. 2013 is three seniors and two freshmen.
Mahalo to Bobby for his input. Konawaena has been No. 1 in the Star-Advertiser Girls Basketball Top 10 for most of the season. Kamehameha is right there at No. 2. It’s still wide open this year, one of the most interesting years ever in terms of parity.
Konawaena didn’t travel to Oahu for preseason tournament play this season, so the mystery is intriguing. I can hardly wait for states.
Paul Honda, Star-Advertiser