Roosevelt, Sacred Hearts are girls hoops top seeds
Bobby Keanini likes to be invisible.
He even likes it when his Roosevelt Rough Riders are off the radar, as if that were possible.
The longtime Roosevelt coach was shocked to learn that his team was given a No. 1 seed for the Hawaiian Airlines Girls Basketball Division I State Championships.
Keanini, who spends his Sundays at the movies, was true to form yesterday. He was en route to see "Invisible" when he got the news about his team's top seeding.
"We're seeded 1? How did they come up with that? Konawaena and Iolani, they deserve their respect," he said.
The tourney tips off tomorrow, and Oahu Interscholastic Association Red champion Roosevelt has a first-round bye.
The Rough Riders play the winner between unseeded Honokaa and Moanalua.
Konawaena, the No. 1 ranked team in the Star-Bulletin's poll, earned the second seed in the tournament, followed by Iolani and Lahainaluna. Honokaa, Moanalua, Punahou, Farrington, Kalani, Kahuku, Radford and Maui earned unseeded spots in the tournament.
Sacred Hearts, the top team in the ILH, earned the top seed in the Division II tournament, followed by McKinley, Seabury Hall and Hawaii Prep.
Lanai, Kailua, La Pietra, Campbell, Waimea, St. Andrew's, St. Francis and Kamehameha-Hawaii are the tournament's unseeded teams.
The Hawaiian Airlines Girls Basketball Division I State Championships tip off tomorrow, and Oahu Interscholastic Association Red champion Roosevelt is the top seed and has a first-round bye.
But for Roosvelt coach Bobby Keanini, who has not voted for his team on a single Star-Bulletin Top 10 ballot this season, it would be just fine if nobody paid attention to his Rough Riders.
That's impossible, of course, for a team that locked down every foe in the OIA playoffs and has a player-of-the-year candidate in Iwalani Rodrigues.
For Konawaena, a perfect season in the Big Island Interscholastic Federation did not yield a No. 1 seed when the Hawaii High School Athletic Association committee met.
Iolani drew the third seeded berth, while Maui Interscholastic League champion Lahainaluna got the fourth seed. Iolani fans may have clamored for the top berth, arguing that the ILH has historically been the state's toughest league. However, this season has been one of widespread parity, more so with key injuries to Punahou's All-State twins, Shawna-Lei and Shaena-Lyn Kuehu.
The two-time defending state champions managed to qualify for the tourney as the ILH's second entry. The strength of teams not winning their leagues, such as Punahou, Honokaa, Kalani and Radford, is why pairings bear more weight than seedings this season.
"Parity in the league is one thing, but in the state tournament, anybody can knock each other out," Keanini said.
"As far as the seeding goes, you gotta come to play every night. The seeding doesn't matter. You can't just show up."
Roosevelt (21-3), which lost to Punahou in the state final last year, will face the Honokaa-Moanalua winner. Honokaa features University of Hawaii recruit Keisha Kanekoa, a point guard who often defers to her open teammates. When she looks to score, Kanekoa can be explosive. She scored 35 points in a state-berth-clinching playoff win over Hilo.
Moanalua is the fifth-place team from the OIA, but led Roosevelt at halftime in their last meeting on April 24 at the Rough Riders' gym.
Roosevelt looks like a finesse team, but is rugged defensively -- a byproduct of Keanini's practice regimen. The Rough Riders spend 75 percent of their time working on defense.
Guard Tiana Sugui remains a question mark after injuring an ankle in the OIA semifinals. "She ran yesterday really gingerly on it. I thought it would be better," Keanini said.
The pairings get rougher for the other seeded teams.
» Konawaena (22-1) got more love from coaches and media in the Star-Bulletin Top 10, where the Wildcats are No. 1, than from the seeding committee. Normally, the 'Cats travel to Oahu for nonconference tournament play, but they stayed home this year. The lack of crossover competition may have swayed the committee, even though Konawaena got past Kalani in the Wildcats' tournament two months ago.
If Kalani can get past Kahuku, fans will get a Wildcats-Falcons rematch. That's a big 'if,' though, because Kahuku nearly upset Kalani on April 25, losing 49-47.
» Iolani (20-3) is one of four teams this season that have been ranked No. 1, but the topsy-turvy nature of the ILH created some doubt among voters. The Raiders fared well against a quick, pressing team like Punahou, but had inconsistency against taller, bigger teams like Kamehameha.
That's why a potential matchup with either Maui or Radford is intriguing. Radford relies on a punishing man-to-man defense with strong guards and stout 6-foot center Ta Nitra Byrd. Maui has a plethora of tall posts, led by Hotia Vaaimamao.
» Lahainaluna (20-2) is, by far, the youngest of the seeded teams. Aside from a close loss to Maui a few weeks ago, the Lunas' only other defeat came in a nonconference tourney against Kamehameha. This time, they'll have a healthy lineup and 5-11 freshman center Milika Taufa, perhaps the best offensive center ever to play for coach Todd Rickard.
If Punahou can defeat Farrington in the opening round, Lahainaluna would end up being an underdog despite its MIL crown.
All four rounds of the Division I tourney will be played at Stan Sheriff Center.
Sacred Hearts (19-4) had an amazing string of 13 wins without a loss in the ILH and was rewarded with a No. 1 seed for the Division II state tourney. The Lancers also have nonconference wins over McKinley, Campbell and Kahuku.
McKinley (18-6), which has been on fire from the 3-point line for a few weeks, scorched its way through the OIA playoffs and has the second seed.
Seabury Hall (19-1), which went unbeaten through the MIL, is No. 3, and Hawaii Prep has the fourth seed.