Mid-Pacific picking up where it left off


POSTED: Sunday, December 27, 2009

FOURTH IN A SERIES » They haven't had a close game against a local team yet, and their only loss came against Siegel (Tenn.), which won the Punahou tournament.

The Mid-Pacific Owls are soaring in preseason. Soon, coach Nate Hu's team will be pitted against three traditionally powerful teams in the Interscholastic League of Honolulu, but so far, the Owls have played like champs.

Mid-Pacific is No. 7 in the Star-Bulletin Boys Basketball Preseason Top 10.

On paper: At 7-1 in nonconference play, the Owls have picked up where last year ended. They've already beaten No. 8 Roosevelt 52-40.

Last year's 10-14 record (4-9 ILH) masks significant progress under Hu. The Owls upset then-No. 5 Saint Louis late in the season, and after a lopsided loss to Punahou, returned three nights later and pushed the Buffanblu hard in a 55-47 defeat.

Newcomers Patrick Matthews and Andrew Swanson have been steady and superb for MPI, which won the Kihei Chevron St. Anthony Invitational on Tuesday. Matthews was named most valuable player, while Swanson, who scored 20 points in the final against Harker (Calif.), was selected to the all-tourney team.

The skinny: Replacing some solid seniors, including All-State Fab 15 forward Marcus Holyfield, is no easy task. Savvy point guard Samson Won is gone, and yet, the Owls are making it look rather easy.

Dayton Uchiyama and Shaun Donovan are helping with the scoring load.

X factor: Holyfield, now playing football at SMU, was arguably the state's best defensive player. Finding another stopper like him would be a huge bonus for the Owls.