HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL
JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARBULLETIN.COM
Punahou's Kimo Makaula, bottom, and Iolani's Kela Marciel battled for a loose ball last month in the James Alegre tournament. The state's top two teams play against each other again on Friday.
Punahou, Iolani meet again
In the post-Miah Ostrowski, post-Spencer McLachlin era, Dan Hale's Punahou Buffanblu seemed almost anonymous at first. At the St. Francis Merv Lopes Classic boys basketball tournament last week, Punahou took bold steps forward.
Kameron Steinhoff was the most accurate, most difficult player to guard in the tournament, more so than any highly recruited players from Our Lady of Good Counsel (ranked No. 3 in Maryland) and Bishop Gorman (No. 1 in Nevada).
Steinhoff was at his best in a 27-point effort against OLGC with reverse layups and NBA-range 3-pointers, but he wasn't alone. Manti Te'o, who sat out last year, has clearly become Punahou's strongest low-post scorer. Recently voted the Star-Bulletin's All-State football defensive player of the year, the 6-foot-2, 230-pound junior is not only strong and athletic, but he is also fearless down low. Te'o and fellow reserve Kimo Makaula are both tall, strong and love to run the floor with the quickest of guards. Forwards with that level of athleticism give the Buffanblu a trump card.
Punahou, which received 21 of 22 possible first-place votes in today's Star-Bulletin Boys Basketball Top 10, has been pushed to the limit by only one local team so far. Iolani, which lost to the Buffanblu on a last-second layup by Dalton Hilliard in the final of the James Alegre Invitational, gets another shot on Friday. Iolani hosts Punahou in a potent league opener between the state's top two teams.
Lopes keeps busy
Merv Lopes retired a few years back, but he is far from dormant.
The 75-year-old Waikoloa resident stays busy with fishing and continues to coordinate the Pete Newell Big Man Camp. Visiting Oahu last week as the namesake of the St. Francis Merv Lopes Classic gave the legendary coach time to soak in the prep hoops atmosphere he once thrived in decades ago.
The former Chaminade guru spent years honing his craft at Kailua before moving on to Chaminade. At Kailua, Lopes had a habit of driving his players to school at 5 a.m. so they could have early-morning practices. At Chaminade, he was the architect of several upsets by the NAIA school over national powers, including No. 1 Virginia and All-America center Ralph Sampson.
"Back then, we weren't afraid to take a chance on a kid. If you want to reach your potential, sometimes you have to take a chance," said Lopes, who started his DOE career as a P.E. teacher and retired as a counselor.
"You have to want to work with kids who might have some problems," he said, grinning from ear to ear. "Sometimes, those kids are a lot of fun."
Star-Bulletin Top 10
The top 10 high school boys basketball teams, according to a poll of coaches and media.
| 1. Punahou, 10-1 (21)
||lost to Our Lady (Md.)
| 2. Iolani, 5-6 (1)
||lost to Dorsey (Calif.)
| 3. Kamehameha, 11-2
| 4. Saint Louis, 4-3
||lost to MLK (Calif.)
| 5. Kalaheo, 9-5
||lost to B. Gorman (Nev.)
| 6. KS-Hawaii, 9-2
||lost to Th. Oaks (Calif.)
| 7. Moanalua, 11-7
||lost to Kamehameha
| 8. Mid-Pacific, 13-5
| 9. Konawaena, 8-4
||lost to Thunderbird (Ariz.)
|10. Mililani, 4-6
||lost to Otay (Calif.)
» Voted on by coaches and media from around the state
» First-place votes in parentheses
» 10 points for first-place vote, 9 for second, 8 for third; etc.
» Also received votes: Maryknoll 9, Baldwin 8, Aiea 5, Farrington 2, Kaimuki 2, Radford 2, Waiakea 2, Campbell 1, Honokaa 1, University 1