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Wednesday, May 25, 2005



HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS



Kauai coach
wants KIF to
move into D-II

The 3-school league has
won only 10 Division I
tourney games since 1977

At least two schools are keeping their sights set on next year's Division II girls state basketball championships.

Kauai, which went two and out during last week's Division I state tourney, is interested in going that way. The Kauai Interscholastic Federation has a cumulative record of 10-56 in the tournament since it was conceived in 1977. Perhaps more telling of the KIF's displaced position in the D-I tourney is its history in first-round games: 4-30.

"I think it would be good for the league to seriously think about going D-II," Kauai coach Dennis Aquino said. "We belong there. And I know there's been some discussion about this."

If the KIF asks the HHSAA for entrance into the D-II tourney, it won't mean automatic success. Kamehameha-Hawaii edged St. Francis for the state title this year. KS-Hawaii is the only team that handed eventual D-I champ Punahou a loss, albeit early in nonconference play and with a key player out of the lineup.

Still, D-II is growing larger and more competitive statewide. One reason is Kamehameha-Hawaii's contentment.

"We're not going anywhere," athletic director Bob Wagner said. "We're a small school with 200 girls. We're staying in Division II."

Wagner's decision last year allowed the Warriors to remain in D-II though most observers knew they could easily compete at the higher level. However, with an all-underclassmen team, staying in D-II proved to be a wise move.

If it had moved up this spring, KS-Hawaii may not have made it to the state tourney, period. Both Konawaena and Honokaa were the two best D-I teams in the Big Island Interscholastic Federation, and KSH would have stayed home, in all likelihood.

KSH's decision is something Aquino can relate to.

"If you take out the pride and ego and all that stuff and do what's right for the kids, our league should be in D-II for girls basketball," he said.

A change in destination for the KIF wouldn't be the first. Three years ago, then-Waimea football coach Jon Kobayashi supported the possibility of sending the league's champion to the new Division II state tourney. The league hasn't looked back since the change.

On Oahu, meanwhile, it is a near-certainty that Maryknoll girls basketball will drop down to Division II, where the ILH may field 14 teams next season. Only five would be left in Division I. Would this cause the ILH to lose one of its two state Division I berths?

On paper, no -- unless one of the other leagues assigns more D-I teams to upset the current balance.



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