Tuesday, January 28, 2003

Buffanblu still in
thick of ILH
softball race

By Nick Abramo

Punahou avoided a heap of trouble last week by blanking Iolani to maintain its second-place standing in Interscholastic League of Honolulu softball.

The 3-0 victory came after a surprising upset loss to University. Two losses in a row would have put the Buffanblu in a tough hole to climb out of.

Kamehameha (12-1) is still the front-runner, but Punahou (12-2) is right behind with Iolani (9-3) trying to creep into one of the two state tournament berths.

"We'll see on the evening of Jan. 30 what's going to happen," Punahou coach Kristl Okuhara-Chinen said, referring to Thursday, the final day of the regular season.

Sarah Weisskopf's five-hitter was the difference for the Buffanblu against the Raiders.

"Sarah's maturity level is absolutely incredible," Okuhara-Chinen said. "She thinks like a pitcher and is not really a thrower, but once in a while she puts some pop into the ball. She's also one of two power hitters on the team.

"We're not a very deep team, but a team that's very close. We do a lot of things as a group, like hitting behind runners."

Sophomore Gail Matsushima is the other Buffanblu batter who can take it deep.

Okuhara-Chinen sees Kamehameha as the strongest team in the state again this year, by far, and her squad visits the Warriors for a game today at 3:45 p.m.

"The ILH is so competitive," Okuhara-Chinen said. "Teams like Kamehameha and Iolani are so well-coached, they bring out the best in us. The schedule is such a grind and only two can go to the states.

"Hopefully, our game against Kamehameha will have some significance."

Salanoa loves turnout: New Radford football coach Fred Salanoa was ecstatic about the turnout of 80 prospective players at an offseason meeting last week.

He has big plans for the Rams.

"I want to come in and bring my energy and enthusiasm to restore the old Radford tradition," Salanoa said. "It might not be in wins and losses, but definitely in discipline and respect for your peers. I want to make sure they leave Radford with a way to carry themselves in life."

Radford athletic director Eddie Maruyama thinks Salanoa is a good fit.

"He's going to be great for our kids and the community. He's very intelligent and he has a vision for developing the program."

A 1996 alumnus of the school, Salanoa is good friends with former Radford and Hawaii standout Ashley Lelie, but Lelie didn't start playing for the Rams until Salanoa graduated.

The Rams went 2-5 last fall.

Villanueva at helm in Waipahu: Coach Abe Villanueva is 3-3 so far in his first year as the Waipahu basketball head man, and he's having fun.

"It's enjoyable, the teaching, and very fun," Villanueva said, "but a better word is intriguing. I had forgotten all the little things that need to be done."

Villanueva took the last four years off, but was a long-time assistant with Cosmo Arakawa before that.

"We were kind of struggling in the preseason," Villanueva said. "But now the team is becoming more consistent and finding out who they are. We have an outside chance at making the playoffs and it will all come down to how we do in the second half of the season."

Stacie Nii, the Marauders' head coach from 2000 to 2002, is an assistant under Villanueva.

Regular-season champs: The Oahu Interscholastic Association soccer playoffs start this week. Girls games are tomorrow and Thursday, while the boys play Friday and Saturday.

The Kahuku girls team (7-2-1) won a photo-finish regular-season East title, squeaking by four teams with identical 6-1-3 records --Castle, Kalaheo, Kaiser and Kailua.

In the boys East race, Castle (7-1-2) and Kaiser (7-1-2) tied for first place.

In the West, Mililani (8-0-1) shaded Pearl City (7-1-1) for the boys regular-season title, while the Mililani and Pearl City girls finished in a tie for first at 8-0-1.

Playoff seedings are expected to be announced today.

ILH hoops leaders shaken up: Saint Louis (6-2) lost a step on Iolani (8-0) in the Interscholastic League of Honolulu basketball race after suffering an upset loss to Damien Saturday night.

The defending state champion Raiders nearly faltered, but beat Punahou in overtime.

Make-up game: The Kaiser vs. Kahuku varsity and junior varsity basketball games originally scheduled for last Tuesday will be played on Feb. 6 at Kahuku. The games were canceled when a water main broke at Punuluu Beach Park, forcing the closure of Kamehameha Highway.

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