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StarBulletin.com

No. 10 Molokai back for more


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POSTED: Thursday, December 24, 2009

FIRST IN A SERIES

Life on the road is just a way of life for the Molokai Farmers, the defending Division II state champions in girls basketball.

Already this winter, Molokai has played in tournaments at Konawaena and Moanalua.

The steady challenges — five of the six games so far have been against D-I squads — serves to sharpen Molokai, which returns its top two scorers from last year's team.

Molokai opens the Star-Bulletin Preseason Top 10 ranked at No. 10 — a D-II powerhouse among D-I schools.

On paper: Molokai is 3-3 in nonconference play so far, including wins over Kamehameha-Hawaii, Kamehameha and Moanalua.

Kalei Adolpho was a swift, unpolished, two-sport star as a freshman. Her hoops game developed last season, and the 6-foot-1 sophomore was a major force in Molokai's run at the state tourney.

Adolpho had nine points in a 35-30 quarterfinal win over University, then amassed 16 points, 25 rebounds and seven blocks in a 47-37 semifinal victory over Kapaa.

She then had 21 points (9-for-11), 19 boards and five blocks in a 45-42 title win over Kamehameha-Hawaii.

Adolpho, who also plays volleyball, stayed on Oahu during the summer to work on her hoops skills at clinics and camps. She returned this season with an oral commitment to play basketball for the University of Hawaii.

The skinny: The Farmers are the favorite in Division II, but a third scorer would make life easier for coaches Doug Furlong and Mike Hooper. Jolenta Duvauchelle shows potential, but overall, Molokai is vulnerable to teams that crowd the paint and shoot effectively.

Pearl City did just that during the tourney at Moanalua, double- and triple-teaming Adolpho on the low post, hoping Molokai's perimeter shooters would miss.

The Farmers won't surprise anybody this time around, which means developing shooters is a necessity rather than a luxury.

X factor: Another division-only slate in the Maui Interscholastic League means Molokai will not play defending D-I champ Lahainaluna.

The more competition the Farmers can get before the state tourney — they've dominated D-II in the MIL — the better.