HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL
Top-ranked Buffanblu don’t care about poll
The heartbreak of losing on a buzzer-beating 3-pointer will pass for the Punahou boys basketball team.
The Buffanblu fell to Salesian (Calif.), the favorite to win the Bay Shore Athletic League in Northern California, in Friday's championship of their own Holiday Classic. There is little consolation in the 68-66 defeat but there's plenty to be optimistic about.
Punahou, which was unbeaten against Hawaii competition in December, has emerged as the No. 1 team in the first Star-Bulletin Boys Basketball Top 10 poll of the season. Among the Buffanblu's 12 wins is one over four-time defending state champion Iolani, which is ranked No. 2.
Punahou coach Greg Tacon's imprint upon the program is unmistakeable. The Buffanblu have the same approach to the game as their mentor. They are also as uninterested in polls as Tacon, who voted but didn't list Punahou on his ballot.
It's a practice not uncommon to some coaches who realize that their teams are in the spotlight, the symbolic bull's eye for every other opponent to target. It didn't matter, since Punahou collected 11 of 13 first-place votes.
Miah Ostrowski, Punahou's third-year starter at guard, turned in the most impressive offensive performance of any player in nonconference play. The 5-foot-9 gunner scored 16 of his 24 points after intermission in the loss to Salesian, a team with outstanding man-to-man defense.
"This was a big test for us," said Ostrowski, who was voted to the Star-Bulletin football all-state first team as a wide receiver.
Punahou's ascension will likely serve as motivation for Iolani, which went 2-2 on its trip to the Les Schwab Invitational in Oregon. The Raiders also went to see former teammate Derrick Low lead Washington State over Arizona State in a Pac-10 battle.
"We improved a lot on this trip," coach Mark Mugiishi said from Spokane, Wash.
Saint Louis, a mystery team until a 3-0 run through its Walter Wong Classic, is ranked No. 4. Jeremiah Masoli, the Crusaders' 6-1 point guard, was named most valuable player in the tourney after a superlative performance.
Kamehameha-Hawaii, with three wins at the Punahou Holiday Classic, made a statement with a victory over defending Oahu Interscholastic Association champion Kahuku. Anchoring coach Nelson Wong's team is sharpshooter Reece Alnas.
"I hope that the confidence built over the last three days of the Punahou tournament will help us to reach our potential," Wong said.