ILH runner-up Punahou ready for fun and games
By Wes Nakama
Advertiser Staff Writer
Alika Smith played in four boys basketball state tournaments, with no championship medal to show for it.
So as first-year head coach at Punahou, he understands exactly how tough a climb it can be to reach the top of the ladder on Saturday night, cutting down the nets.
"Nothing's given to you," said Smith, a former three-time Advertiser All-State first-team guard at Kalāheo. "Everybody had to earn their way here, so they're all good teams. But the parity of the tournament is what makes it fun."
The fun starts today with opening-round action in the Hawaiian Airlines Division I State Championships, with doubleheaders at Radford and McKinley.
The downsized eight-team DII tournament begins first-round play tomorrow with doubleheaders at Farrington and Kalani.
For Smith and his Interscholastic League of Honolulu runner-up Buffanblu, the road to Saturday night begins with today's 5 p.m. opener against Maui Interscholastic League runner-up Kamehameha-Maui at McKinley. No. 3 seed and Big Island Interscholastic Federation champion Hilo awaits the winner in tomorrow's quarterfinals.
The Buffanblu's bracket also includes O'ahu Interscholastic Association champion Moanalua and ILH third-place finisher Kamehameha, the defending state champ.
"Our bracket is stacked, but we feel good," Smith said. "We're fortunate to have had some time off because we've got some guys nicked up. They got some rest, and we were able to add a few wrinkles. But it's going to come down to how well we execute."
ILH champion 'Iolani is the top seed, followed by Moanalua, Hilo and MIL champ Lahainaluna.
The top four seeds all received first-round byes and will begin play in tomorrow's quarterfinals.
The semifinals will be played Friday at the University of Hawai'i's Stan Sheriff Center, with the championship game set for 7 p.m. Saturday at SSC.
The DII semifinals will be played at school sites Friday, with the title game set for 5 p.m. at Stan Sheriff Center on Saturday.
Both championship games will be televised live statewide on OC16
Here is a closer look at all 12 DI teams in the tournament (records are for regular and postseason):
Record: 11-4 (OIA fourth place)
Coach: Wyatt Tau
Notable: The Sabers came within a basket of reaching the league semifinals, losing to Kahuku, 62-61, in an elimination game. Senior post Christian Storment (6-2) and senior guard Kristian Manuel (5-6) are explosive scorers. Tau coached 'Aiea to the DII state final two years ago, so he is no stranger to tournament play.
Record: 6-11 (OIA fifth place)
Coach: Allan Silva
Notable: The Governors won the DII state title two years ago, but this is their first DI state tourney appearance in at least the past decade. And it happened in an improbable fashion, after going 3-9 in the regular season but upsetting OIA West No. 3 seed Radford, 66-63, in the league playoff opener and later edging Leilehua, 53-52, in the state berth-clinching fifth-place game. Junior forward Lancelot Williams (6-2), senior guard Jayfrey Damo (5-6) and sophomore guard Jeffrey Madarang (5-9) are scoring threats.
Record: 11-4 (BIIF champion)
Coach: Kyle Keamo
Notable: The Vikings — once a tournament regular — are making their first appearance since 2000, the last time they won it all. They finished the BIIF season strong, with a 42-point win over Waiākea in the title game. Senior guard Mitchel Shintani (5-11), junior guard/forward Scotty Wong (5-10) and senior forward Dakota Allen (6-4) are scoring threats.
Record: 12-2 (ILH champion)
Coach: Dean Shimamoto
Notable: The Raiders suffered two early losses to Kamehameha and Punahou, but have rebounded and claimed the league title after several narrow victories. Senior guard Kainoa Chu (6-0) and junior guard Trevyn Tulonghari (6-0) are top scoring threats, but they play within the system and get offensive help from savvy senior forward Jarrett Arakawa (6-0) and senior point guard Andrew Skalman (5-9). Junior forward Josiah Sukumaran (6-3) has improved in the post. 'Iolani will rotate players every couple minutes so they remain fresh entering the final period.
Record: 13-4 (OIA runner-up)
Coach: Hiram Akina
Notable: The Red Raiders have developed a strong inside game to complement senior guard Nehoa Akina (5-9), who is one of the state's top outside shooters. Junior post Shairone Thompson (6-4) is a good rebounder and shot-blocker, and junior center KJ Uluave (6-4) has returned from an injury to make solid contributions. Senior guard Sage Kaka (6-0) is another outside threat.
Record: 13-4 (ILH third place)
Coach: Jesse Nakanishi
Notable: The Warriors have been the state's busiest team of late, playing five games in 10 days culminating in Monday's 75-60 victory at Honoka'a to clinch their berth. Junior forward Micah Christenson (6-5) might be Hawai'i's most versatile player, contributing with inside-outside scoring, rebounds, blocked shots, steals and assists. Junior forward Charlton Tang (6-2) is an underrated threat, very athletic on the inside and also able to hit the mid-range jumper. Junior guard Shane Matayoshi (5-8) and sophomore guard Dyrbe Enos (5-8) are dangerous 3-point shooters.
Record: 9-5 (MIL runner-up)
Coach: Chad Kalehuawehe
Notable: The Warriors are making their third DI state tourney appearance in 4 years, thanks to a 45-39 victory over Baldwin in the MIL runner-up game on Feb. 22. Senior guard/forward Kekoa Turbeville (6-1) and senior guard Tyler Hilsabeck (6-0) are high scorers.
Record: 12-2 (MIL champion)
Coach: Casey Brummel
Notable: The Lunas clinched the league title after a dramatic 32-30 victory over Baldwin in the MIL tournament final. Senior forward Sam Kiek (6-4) can be tough to stop in the post, and junior guard T.J. Rickard (5-7) is a leader in the backcourt.
Record: 12-4 (OIA third place)
Coach: Ed Gonzales
Notable: The Trojans are relatively tall and very athletic, not afraid to push the pace. Junior forward Hassan Richardson (6-3) can score in the post and runs the floor well. Senior guards R.J. Griffin (6-1), Joe McGlamery (6-3) and Brandon Fujinaga (5-9) are outside threats.
Record: 15-1 (OIA champion)
Coach: Greg Tacon
Notable: After a loss to Kahuku early in the regular season, Nā Menehune rebounded quickly and have been on a roll since. Senior guard Josiah Kauhola (6-0) has emerged as one of the state's top long-range shooters, and senior forward Marcus Monroe (6-4) can produce 3-pointers and high-flying dunks. Freshman guard Marcus Keene (5-7) is poised beyond his years and has the skills to match. Senior guard Reece Racoma (5-9) and junior guard Keven Amaral (6-0) are underrated contributors, and junior post Richard Villasenor (6-2) gets the tough rebounds.
Record: 11-3 (ILH runner-up)
Coach: Alika Smith
Notable: The Buffanblu have withstood the loss of senior shooting guard Taylor Crabb (injury), with senior forward Henry Cassiday (6-3), senior point guard Matt Feldman (5-9) and senior guard James Dowsett (6-1) picking up the outside shooting responsibilities. Sophomore posts DeForest Buckner (6-7) and Malik Johnson (6-6) are great leapers and tough to defend under the basket. Both are effective shot-blockers.
Record: 10-4 (BIIF runner-up)
Coach: Paul Lee
Notable: The Warriors do not have a lot of height, with only one player over 6 feet. But they beat BIIF champ Hilo twice before falling to the Vikings, 71-39, in the league's title game. Senior forwards Chris Mattos and Clayton Morante (both 5-10) man the post positions, while senior guard Matt Libao (5-9) leads the backcourt.
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