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Star-Bulletin Sports

Wednesday, June 7, 2000

P R E P _ B A S K E T B A L L



Sweet 16 for
preps unlikely

Expanding the state basketball
tourney fields tops the
HIADA agenda

By Dave Reardon


Don't expect 16-team high school state championship basketball tournaments in 2001.

Veteran officials said a proposal to expand the tournaments from 12 teams probably won't pass at the Hawaii Interscholastic Athletic Directors Association meetings that start tomorrow on Maui.

"I don't think it will draw much support, though personally we like it because it gives more kids an opportunity to participate," said Don Botelho, athletic director at Mid-Pacific the past 27 years. "The support is basically from the (Interscholastic League of Honolulu). I don't think the other (leagues) want it."

Dwight Toyama, Oahu Interscholastic Association executive secretary, said his league will vote against the proposal.

"We're definitely against it. We feel 12 teams are enough. If you expand to 16 it waters down the tournament," Toyama said. "Our view on participation is that it is addressed at the league level. The state level should be a (competitive) step above."

In addition to increased participation, proponents for 16-team tournaments cite decreased travel costs through four regional competitions leading up to a final four the next weekend. They also say there would be less lost school time, because the competition would be Friday and Saturday of both weeks.

Another proposal, for state-championship eligibility for teams made up of athletes from more than one school, probably won't pass, either, Botelho said.

As the longtime head coach of the Pac-Five football team, a conglomerate of several ILH schools, Botelho has keen insight on the combo team issue.

"Some people think we combine for power purposes," Botelho said. "There's never been a Pac-Five team that qualified for a state tournament, and I don't know if it will ever happen."

Pac-Five did win two Prep Bowls (1982 and 1985), which was the unofficial state football championship until last year, when the Hawaii High School Athletic Association held its first state football tournament.

The Wolfpack, however, has rarely contended in football since the 1980s.

HHSAA Executive Director Keith Amemiya said the proposal to allow combo teams in state championships has "checks and balances" to prevent loading up of talent.

They include league and state voting to approve specific teams before each school year.

"We're all about participation," Amemiya said. "So why shouldn't we allow combination teams to participate?"

Botelho said the only time combo teams' exclusion from state championships has hurt Pac-Five is in swimming and track. Relay teams with members from different schools can't compete together in state meets.

Another issue involving combo teams is how they are counted in the formula that determines how many state tournament berths each league receives.

Currently, combo teams are counted in the formula only if there are enough athletes on the team from one school to play a game. As an example, the University High/Hawaii Baptist team would only count if there are at least nine players from one of the schools.

The ILH has many more combo teams than other leagues, especially in basketball. That's why the ILH had three berths compared to four for the OIA in this past year's state tournaments.

In other sports, the formula gives the OIA five state berths compared to two for the ILH, or even one.

This has created controversy, since in many sports the third-place ILH team is much stronger than the fifth-place OIA team. Punahou, second in the ILH in boys' soccer and probably among the top four in the state, did not make the tournament and the HHSAA narrowly avoided legal action.

"The formula is in concept a good idea," Botelho said. "The strength of leagues is not taken into consideration. Are the best teams always in the tournament? Probably not. But that's been accepted so that leagues are represented fairly."

Regardless, Amemiya hopes to pass a proposal to standardize the berths for all 12-team tournaments to five for OIA, two for ILH, two for Big Island Interscholastic Federation, two for Maui Interscholastic League and one for Kauai Interscholastic Federation. The numbers would be reviewed every three years.

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