HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL
Kalaheo, Mililani in the driver’s seat
The wins, the seedings, even the empty calories of a Top 10 ranking go out the door once the playoffs begin.
That's why, even as parity blankets Division I and II hoops in the Oahu Interscholastic Association, there are more pressing issues for nearly every coach.
Academic eligibility. Injuries. Illness. In the OIA Red Conference, finishing in first or second place guarantees an opening-round bye and nothing more. Right now, Kalaheo is in the driver's seat on the East side.
While Kalaheo finds ways to win when its engine isn't running on all cylinders, it is a plus for momentum. Tyler Caswell's dominance on the boards was key to two of Kalaheo's East Division wins this week. Then Cliffton Pires stepped up with a strong all-around effort as the Mustangs held back a furious Kailua rally for a win on Saturday.
Kalaheo's West counterpart, Mililani, has escaped with its share of comeback wins, as well. The Trojans rallied from deficits of 12 and 10 points to pull through with wins and improve to 10-0. Seeding will help, but it's clear that some late-blossoming teams are ready to make a postseason run.
One of Mililani's close-call victories came against Waianae, which shot the lights out before fading in the final quarter against the deeper Trojans. Waianae has four quality scorers, led by 6-foot-1 perimeter gunner Ramsey Beers.
Another dangerous sleeper could be Kahuku, which had Moanalua on the ropes Saturday night. Jray Galeai, a transfer from Timpview High School in Provo, Utah, has brought balance to a Red Raiders squad that is big inside and young in the backcourt. The emergence of Irwin Ah-Hoy as a long-range threat, along with Galeai and Jack Damuni, complements center Willie Ching (6-5) and backup Patrick Au (6-8, 320 pounds).
The two teams could be as low as sixth seeds in their respective divisions, which would give third-place finishers a couple of seriously difficult draws.
Kalaheo coach Chico Furtado has seen Kahuku up close and wonders which Red Raiders team will show up.
"They're kind of confusing. They gave Moanalua a hard time, but they lost to Kailua just two nights earlier," he said. "The more interesting question is the fight for 2, 3 and 4 on our side."
Moanalua (7-3), Kailua (6-4) and Kaimuki (6-4) are in a battle for second place and a first-round bye.
Playbook on padlock: At least one coach said that he held his team back when it came to certain defensive schemes during a game in the past week. The reason?
His team's game was televised on OC 16.
"We would've done more stuff, but not when we're on TV," one coach said.
In fact, the fantastic number of games being televised is a boon for fans across the state. Coaches who don't get to see other leagues, even on Oahu, are getting a benefit, too. Some are scouting potential state-tournament opponents. At least one is putting his viewing experience to the ballot.
Because of the broadcasts, the coach elected to vote in today's Star-Bulletin Top 10 for the first time this season because he finally got a chance to see Interscholastic League of Honolulu games.
It was an historic week for both the ILH and OC 16, the first time regular-season basketball games in the league have been televised by Oahu's only high-school sports TV broadcaster.