There's always something to see in summer league


POSTED: Saturday, August 15, 2009

Show up each week, and you never know what you're going to get.

Julian Sensley might hit a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to send a game into double overtime. Derrick Low could dazzle a defense with his ballhandling then dish to a teammate for a slick layup. Lasha Parghalava can explode for 30-plus points in a matter of minutes.

The unpredictability is part of the fun of the annual College Summer League, which plays its championship game tonight at 7 at the Manoa District Park gym. Top-seeded Electricians Hawaii — led by Low, the former 'Iolani and Washington State star — takes on well-rounded No. 2 seed Central Medical Clinic for the league's 33rd title. Admission is free.

With such a vast array of players in the mix — kids just out of high school, current and former University of Hawaii players, Division II veterans and professionals — the six teams' rosters constantly evolve over the course of the 10-game regular season. It remains the only NCAA-sanctioned men's league in Hawaii.

“;One thing about summer league is it's a different team every game,”; said Sensley, the league's scoring champ, who went for 37 points for Home Managers in a 112-98 semifinal loss to the Electricians last Friday. He uses the league as conditioning between pro seasons; he's headed to Spain in the winter after playing last year in Belgium. “;You got guys who come in, new guys, old guys leaving.”;

But there are constants. John Lane has been one of the league's staples for the last 12 years. The shifty Kailua alum played a year at Chaminade then three more at Butte College, but always came back to play in the summer league.

; “;When I first came in I was a rookie, we had big-name guys here. I was battling against A.C. Carter, Alika Smith, Tes Whitlock,”; said the 5-foot-8 Lane, who scored 23 points and made the game-sealing steal for Central Medical in its 100-97 semifinal win over National Fire Protection. “;(I've seen) unbelievable talent come through here, Geremy Robinson, Julian Sensley, I've watched Derrick Low come from a player who used to play 2 minutes a half, couldn't even hang with anybody, to one of the top guards in the country.

“;Without this league, there's no way for guys of this caliber to play.”;

Robert Bethune has watched the league almost as far back as his arrival in Hawaii in 1984. Since last year, he's called the games courtside as MC.

“;It had its heyday back in the mid-'80s,”; he said. “;You had players that were playing, every one of them was a professional. We had guys from all over the map coming here. Over the last (several) years, we've gotten kind of so-so. But here the last four years, the competitiveness has jumped up dramatically.”;

UH forward Bill Amis infused the league with some current D-I talent this year, using the games to stay sharp for his senior year with the Rainbow Warriors. Teammate Petras Balocka did too, until he had shoulder surgery two weeks ago. (He is recovering on schedule).

“;It gives you a chance to kind of get up and down the court, and gives you a chance to work on your offensive moves against a live defense,”; Amis said. “;There's really no substitute for a real game. It might not be as tough a defense as you find in a Division I game, but it's still a lot better than a pickup.”;

Will Lane and 'Iolani grad Kyle Pape knock off Low's Electricians? You'll have to show up to find out.