Kamehameha-Hawaii defends title despite stiffer competition, injuries
Kamehameha-Hawaii dominated Big Island Interscholastic Federation basketball a year ago. This time, there was plenty of competition.
With clutch wins over Waiakea, Keaau and Konawaena, KS-Hawaii defended its BIIF championship and claimed a state-tournament berth.
"We're happy to be making a return trip to states but feel a little bad that four teams cannot qualify because Honokaa, Kona, and Keaau are all really good teams," coach Nelson Wong said.
The Warriors, laden with experienced seniors, got through a large number of injuries this season. They spent time off the court to deal with the physical strain.
"The pool running does ease the impact on the joints. Besides going easy on the joints, we use the workout to kind of cool off and relax. We do other stuff like backpedaling, shuffling, bounding, and stretching," Wong said.
With starters Kealoha Kramer and Hogan Rosehill sidelined for stretches during the week, Wong turned to reliable reserves like Colton Collins and Keli'i Kimi.
"Colton shot well against Keaau and Honokaa in the regular season. He didn't get the kind of minutes that he's getting now because of the injuries and now because of his performance. His performance was steady and spectacular," Wong said.
"Keli'i is a four-year varsity player. Over the course of four years he has had unpredictable minutes, but each time I thrust him into a big game he responds. He got put into the starting lineup (in place of Rosehill) recently," Wong said.
Against Konawaena in the final, Kimi got some key rebounds and hit two free throws with 16 seconds left in the game to put the Warriors up by five.
Those contributions helped on a night when point guard Mea Wong fouled out with more than 6 minutes left. The Warriors aren't tall, but depth and leadership could take them far when the state tourney begins Feb. 20.
Good and done:
One of the better teams that has been under the radar all season is Punahou II, which went 14-0 in Interscholastic League of Honolulu Division II.
The Buffanblu, led in part by Star-Bulletin All-State volleyball player Riley McKibbin, was 21-4 overall, with losses to Campbell, Aiea, Maryknoll and Villa Park (Calif.).
Existing HHSAA rules exclude a second varsity team from a particular school from competing in the state tournament. Iolani, Kamehameha and Saint Louis also have two varsity teams.
Longtime Punahou II coach Gary Pacarro is happy with his team.
"These kids had an awesome season. This could be attributed to three components to the chemistry of this group: tenacious defense, balanced offense, and most important, team unity that exemplified the unselfishness and undivided friendship this group had for each other," he said.
The ILH, Maui Interscholastic League, Kauai Interscholastic Federation and BIIF award their top state berths to regular-season winners.
It isn't the same in the state's largest league, the Oahu Interscholastic Association, where regular-season play dictates seeding for its playoffs only.
"As a coach I definitely prefer having the regular season mean something with an automatic bid," University coach Walt Quitan said. "I also like the tournament when there is multiple berths to reward somebody playing their best at the end of the season. I think the way the ILH decides their berths is very fair. I know it must be tough for teams like Aiea and Mililani, who had great regular seasons and then have one bad game and their season is now over or almost over."
The Junior Rainbows are upbeat about the playoffs.
"Being a part of a small school I can't tell you how excited our players, students and parents are to get an opportunity to participate in the postseason and maybe play in the (Stan Sheriff) arena. We have always been one of the more competitive small schools, but we have not made states since we won back to back titles in '87 and '88," Quitan said.
"Now with the D-II tourney, it gives that excitement and hope to many more schools," he added. "I think this tournament is much more unpredictable and wide open, so it should make for some exciting basketball."
Athletes of the Week
Miah Ostrowski, Punahou basketball:
scored 26 points as the Buffanblu defeated Iolani 60-46 to capture the Interscholastic League of Honolulu title.
Kanani Taaca, Kamehameha soccer:
the goalkeeper had five saves in a 1-0 win over Pearl City and allowed just two goals in three games as the Warriors won their second straight Division I state championship.
Stevie Austin, Moanalua:
scored 22 points in a playoff win over Pearl City.
Joshua Blau, Le Jardin: scored 30 points against Redemption.
Paul Bolo, Lanai: scored 29 points against Molokai.
Adam Crail, Redemption: scored 21 points against Le Jardin.
Kolwin Dixon, Leilehua: scored 24 points in a playoff win over Kahuku.
Brad Foster, Academy of the Pacific: scored 30 points against Kamehameha II.
Kalani Kahalekai, Nanakuli: scored 20 points against Kaiser.
Jason Ko, Christian Academy: scored 25 points against Word of Life.
Travis Liu, Maryknoll: scored 21 points against Punahou.
Mike Makinano, Campbell: scored 27 points against Moanalua.
Spencer McLachlin, Punahou: had 11 points and 15 rebounds against Iolani.
Tyler Pilor, Laupahoehoe: scored 20 points in a playoff win over Ka'u.
Tristan Sealy, Thompson: scored 33 points against Aiea.
Aaron Tipoti, Word of Life: scored 23 points against Lutheran.
Antonio Williams, Radford: scored 20 points in a playoff win over Kailua.
Basil Walton, Kauai: scored 22 points in a championship-game win over Waimea.
P.J. Wood, Hanalani: scored 26 points against Lanakila Baptist.
Tani Costa, Kalani:
scored three goals against Kealakehe.
Brittney Hutchins, Pac-Five: the converted fullback was solid at goalkeeper, coming up with a save during the championship-game shootout against Mid-Pacific. Pac-Five won the title.
Kela Lau Hee, Kamehameha-Maui: scored twice against Pearl City.
Ashley Medcalf, Pac-Five: scored two goals against Campbell and led the Wolfpack to the Division II state championship.
Joy Nakahara, Roosevelt: made 12 saves against Mid-Pacific.
Miya Quinn, Mid-Pacific: scored two goals against Kapaa. She also scored the only goal in a win over Roosevelt.
Chelsea Swann, Kapolei: scored twice against King Kekaulike.
Jenna Uyehara, Roosevelt: scored twice against Kohala.
Christy Watanabe, Roosevelt: tallied two goals against Kohala.
To nominate ...
To nominate an athlete of the week, contact the Star-Bulletin Sports Department by 11 p.m. Sunday: