The Jekyll-and-Hyde personalities of the state's top teams may have given coaches more stress -- and gray hair -- than they expected this season.
For fans, however, the drama may get even better when the Hawaiian Airlines/HHSAA Girls State Basketball Championships tip off tomorrow.
Punahou heads a field in the Division I tournament that is as unpredictable as any in recent memory. "We've got our work cut out for us, but we knew that would happen," Punahou coach Mike Taylor said. "Even if we were No. 2, the bracket would be more loaded."
Kalani is the top seed in the D-II tournament, which expanded from four to 12 teams this year. Also unprecedented is the decision to play the entire D-II tourney at one site: McKinley Student Council Gym.
The Division I tournament will be played entirely at Stan Sheriff Center, a cavernous facility that doesn't have the same ambiance and intimacy of McKinley when the crowds are huge. Still, the arena is the arena.
"I think it would be great to get as many kids and teams in the arena as possible," Taylor said. "But with the number of games that have to be played, that's tough."
HHSAA executive director Keith Amemiya has wondered aloud in past seasons about the volume of supporters for Division II basketball, including himself.
Thanks to the separate venues, this will be the first time that the support will be purely visible.
"I'm confident they will turn out. Division II has created newfound excitement in all sports," he said, alluding to football and volleyball.
Amemiya won't be looking at attendance markers as a level of success or failure. "I hesitate to give a specific number. There's going to be a lot of interest given to Division I, but I don't think D-II will suffer, especially with the expansion to 12 teams."
Another twist is OC-16's telecasts of the D-I tourney for the duration. The 6 and 8 p.m. games every night will be broadcast live. That means late finishes, particularly with 90-second TV timeouts, and a lot of lost sleep for the student-athletes.
There's no denying, however, that the broadcasts will be welcomed by fans -- especially those on the Neighbor Islands -- who can't attend games.
Punahou, seeded No. 1 -- The Buffanblu (21-2, 9-2 ILH) had plenty of growing pains this season, but came through in the clutch with back-to-back wins over Iolani to capture the Interscholastic League of Honolulu championship.
Roosevelt, No. 2 -- The Rough Riders may be playing the best basketball in the state. Rising out of the tough OIA East, Roosevelt has won 10 games in a row thanks to the savvy frontcourt of Tati Beasley, Shannon Miyashiro and Iwalani Rodrigues.
Roosevelt (22-5, 14-1 OIA) may boast the finest starting five in the islands, but combating injuries is a major key.
Honokaa, No. 3 -- At one point, the Dragons were sailing through the BIIF with big wins over Hilo, Waiakea and the dynasty of Konawaena. In fact, Honokaa ended Konawaena's 61-game win streak in BIIF play behind a 30-point effort by junior guard Keisha Kanekoa.
However, Honokaa (21-4, 12-1 BIIF) lost on its home court to Hilo in last week's playoffs, and had to later fight off Konawaena for the league crown on Saturday.
Lahainaluna, No. 4 -- The Lady Lunas (17-8, 12-3 MIL) finished second in the regular season, but beat Maui twice in the playoffs to seize the league title.
Maui vs. Moanalua, 2:30 p.m. -- The Bears (12-3 MIL) boast one of the taller teams in the MIL, particularly with Hotia Vaaimamao, but are largely untested.
Moanalua (10-14, 5-9 league), with the fifth berth from the OIA, has been highly competitive despite a relatively small lineup.
Kahuku vs. Mililani, 4:15 p.m. -- The Trojans (10-5 OIA) have leaned on Christina Korodan's shooting skills, but came together as a unit late in the season.
Kahuku (18-8, 11-5 OIA) outlasted Mililani in the OIA quarterfinals 39-33 before finishing third.
Kamehameha vs. Radford, 6 p.m. -- The Warriors are coming off a miraculous finish in ILH play, toppling Iolani in the league tournament to claim the second state berth.
Kamehameha (19-4, 8-4 ILH) is the only team that has beaten both Punahou and Iolani this season.
The Lady Rams, meanwhile, have given teams like Kahuku fits. Kamia Smith and Marlena Malepeai helped fill the void left behind by Tereva Moore as Radford (20-5, 12-2 league) finished fourth in the OIA.
Kalaheo vs. Konawaena, 8 p.m. -- The proud history and tradition of both programs makes this practically a made-for-TV matchup. Kalaheo's run at the OIA title was stymied by Roosevelt, but Shanadee Canon is due for a breakout game.
Kalaheo (14-8, 10-4 OIA) isn't the only team with an outstanding go-to scorer in the opening round.
Jazmin Awa-Williams has been a dependable four-year starter for Konawaena (20-3, 12-2 BIIF). Haunani Liftee's ankle problems appear to be history.
Kalani, No. 1 -- The Lady Falcons (12-1 OIA White) love an uptempo pace, and so do their plentiful flock of fans. Megan Kamehiro and Kacie Gushiken are steady guards, while Mana Camara is a cat-quick post. Chloe Martin emerged as a long-range zonebuster in the OIA title win over Aiea.
Kamehameha-Hawaii, No. 2 -- Last year's D-II state champion struggled with injuries in preseason, but has come on strong lately. UH recruit Leilani Galdones is getting her leg strength back (knee injury).
La Pietra, No. 3 -- The Lady Panthers (17-4, 13-1 ILH D-II) persevered after hitting a speed bump late in the season. Courtney Gaddis is one of the state's best-kept secrets, which is no surprise in talent-rich ILH Division II. The 5-foot-9 junior loves to score in transition for La Pietra, the only D-II team currently ranked in the Star-Bulletin Top 10.
Seabury Hall, No. 4 -- Yacine Meyer is the biggest name, but this young team has been invigorated thanks to offseason training. Still, the Spartans (10-1 MIL) probably won't get a higher seed until they do well in state tournaments.
Aiea vs. Molokai, 2:30 p.m. -- Na Alii (8-5 OIA White) have no senior starters, but are talented all over the floor. Natasha Helsham, with a quick pull-up jump shot, is one of the best freshmen in the state.
Molokai started off 6-0 but finished second in regular-season play. The Farmers got past St. Anthony's on Saturday for a state berth. Malia Schnackenberg is one of the leading scorers for Molokai (9-5 league), which played six games in eight days during the MIL tourney.
This is Molokai's first trip to the girls basketball state tourney since 1991.
St. Francis vs. Hawaii Prep, 4:15 p.m. -- The Troubadors (17-8, 14-2 ILH D-II) came extremely close to winning the ILH title and will pose matchup problems thanks to center Siutiti Takai. Kanani Perry is one of the most versatile players in the tourney.
Kela Fitzgerald is the leading scorer for Hawaii Prep (7-6), runner-up from the BIIF.
Kapaa vs. Word of Life, 6 p.m. -- Word of Life, a volleyball force in recent years, makes its debut in the hoops tourney. Careena Onosai, the Firebrands' multi-sport standout, has been a godsend after staying off the basketball court last season.
Kapaa (7-2) is in the D-II tourney for the first time.
Castle vs. Hawaii Baptist, 8 p.m. -- The Knights (9-4 OIA White) barely qualified after a narrow win over Kaimuki, but could end up becoming the darkhorse contender at states. Ui Keauoha's long-range skills are a big plus.
HHSAA Division I girls
At Stan Sheriff Center
1. Punahou. 2. Roosevelt. 3. Honokaa. 4. Lahainaluna.
Moanalua vs. Maui, 2:30 p.m.
Mililani vs. Kahuku, 4:15 p.m.
Radford vs. Kamehameha, 6 p.m.
Konawaena vs. Kalaheo, 8 p.m.
Losers of Games 4 & 2, 12:45 p.m.
Game 1 winner vs. Roosevelt, 2:30 p.m.
Game 4 winner vs. Lahainaluna, 4:15 p.m.
Game 2 winner vs. Punahou, 6 p.m.
Game 3 winner vs. Honokaa, 8 p.m.
Losers of Games 3 & 1, 12:45 p.m.
Losers of Games 7 & 8, 2:30 p.m.
Losers of Games 9 & 6, 4:15 p.m.
Winners of Games 9 & 6, 6 p.m.
Winners of Games 7 & 8, 8 p.m.
Winners of Games 10 & 5, 2:30 p.m.
Winners of Games 12 & 11, 4:15 p.m.
Losers of Games 13 & 14, 6 p.m.
18: Winners of Games 13 & 14, 8 p.m.
HHSAA Division II girls
At McKinley H.S. gym
1. Kalani. 2. Kamehameha-Hawaii. 3. La Pietra. 4. Seabury Hall.
Molokai vs. Aiea, 2:30 p.m.
Hawaii Prep vs. St. Francis, 4:15 p.m.
Word of Life vs. Kapaa, 6 p.m.
Hawaii Baptist vs. Castle, 8 p.m.
Losers of Games 2 & 3, 12:45 p.m.
Game 2 winner vs. Seabury Hall, 2:30 p.m.
Game 4 winner vs. Kamehameha-Hawaii, 4:15 p.m.
Game 1 winner vs. La Pietra, 6 p.m.
Game 3 winner vs. Kalani, 8 p.m.
Losers of Games 1 & 4, 12:45 p.m.
Losers of Games 6 & 9, 2:30 p.m.
Losers of Games 8 & 7, 4:15 p.m.
Winners of Games 6 & 9, 6 p.m.
Winners of Games 8 & 7, 8 p.m.
Winners of Games 10 & 5, 2:30 p.m.
Winners of Games 12 & 11, 4:15 p.m.
Losers of Games 14 & 13, 6 p.m.
Winners of Games 14 & 13, 8 p.m.