Neighboring schools take the East and West division leads in OIA girls basketball
They're only 2 1/2 miles apart, but two schools are already the girls divisional frontrunners for the state's largest league.
Radford is off to a 3-0 start in the Oahu Interscholastic Association Red West. First-year coach Tani Dutro has the Lady Rams on a roll following their latest win at Kapolei.
Star-Bulletin All-State center Ta Nitra Byrd is back on the court after sitting out recently with an injury. Bui Baravilala, one of Radford's relentless offensive forces, came up big with 21 points in the road win.
Radford is No. 6 in the Star-Bulletin Girls Basketball Top 10.
Meanwhile, Moanalua has surprised the field and has an equally good 3-0 mark in the OIA Red East. Na Menehune had their ups and downs in a rough nonconference schedule, but first-year coach Kristie Morikawa's team has persevered. One of the best moves by any of her players came off the court, however.
Senior Britni Ronolo considered sitting out the hoops season to concentrate on softball. Morikawa, who is also Moanalua's softball coach, is glad Ronolo returned to the hardwood. For Ronolo, playing without older sister Jamie Ronolo has taken some getting used to.
Moanalua's latest win, 40-32 at Kalaheo, capped a week that included wins over Kaimuki and previously ranked Roosevelt. For now, at least, those early losses to top-10 squads like Konawaena, Iolani and Kamehameha are starting to pay off.
The next big test for unranked Moanalua is on Friday, when No. 7 Kalani visits.
Wildcats miss 2 key players
The Konawaena Wildcats moved up a spot to No. 7 in the Star-Bulletin Boys Basketball Top 10 this week, but their biggest challenge is around the corner. The 'Cats open play in the Spalding Tournament tomorrow against Arizona's No. 1 team, Salpointe Catholic.
They'll play without Kekoa Carvalho, who is healing up from an ankle injury. Konawaena is also without Austonn Lazoff. The 6-foot-2 senior is back home in Oregon for the holidays. Carvalho, averaging 19 points and six rebounds per game, is a big loss. The temporary absence of Lazoff, who scored 42 points in a win over Campbell recently, means the 'Cats are looking for more leadership.
Cleveland or Hawaii?
When Mason County (Ky.) came to the Iolani Classic last week, two followers of the program came along for the ride. Statistician Kenny Haggard
toted his laptop and printed out pro-style box scores for media. Haggard has done stats for the Mason girls basketball team for 25 years and counting. This year, he's doubling up with boys basketball.
The Mason County girls went to Cleveland last week. Haggard grabbed his golf clubs and opted for Hawaii.
One of the media members he shared stats with was Danny Weddle, play-by-play man for Mason County basketball. Weddle, of WFTM, has called games for 29 seasons. Back in Kentucky, Mason County games draw packed houses to a 6,000-seat gym, and the state tourney draws about 15,000 every night.
Kentucky has one classification for all basketball teams.
Ji Lin impresses Iolani fans
The recent performance of the fast-breaking Ji Lin Dragons entertained -- and won over -- fans at the Iolani Classic boys basketball tournament. The best may be yet to come.
Though tournament officials did not comment officially, there is a growing expectation that China may send an elite team to the tournament next year. Ji Lin, a tall, fast high school team, won two of its four games during the tourney. Xiangyang Zhan and Qinpen Wang were named to the all-tournament team.
An elite team from China would represent a larger region than a high school, and would possibly enter play against the national powerhouses of the Iolani Classic.
Ji Lin is believed to be the first Chinese high school team ever to play in the U.S.
Now that the waters have been tested, local fans could get more international basketball at their front door sooner than later.
The Dragons, by the way, all wore white-and-orange Nike shoes.
Nike is one of the sponsors of the Iolani Classic.