Boys State Basketball Tournament Tips Wednesday on Oahu
The culmination of three and a half months of practice, non-league tournaments, and league play comes this Wednesday as the Hawaiian Airlines / HHSAA Boys State Basketball Championships get underway. Twelve teams will vie for the title in division one, while eight will compete in division two a day later.
The division one tournament kicks off on Wednesday with four opening round games. BIIF runner-up Hilo opens the tournament for the second straight year at 5 p.m. at McKinley High’s Student Council Gymnasium in front of a televised audience. Last year, the Vikings lost to Kahuku of the OIA in a fast-paced, high-scoring affair. This year, the Vikings are matched up with Na Menehune of Moanalua, coached by Greg Tacon.
Moanalua enters the tournament after a 73-61 loss to the Red Raiders of Kahuku back on Tuesday, although their spot in the state tournament was still intact. Na Menehune are 2-0 against the BIIF this year, defeating Waiakea 85-80 in double overtime and St. Joseph 42-33 during their own Na Menehune Holiday Classic.
Hilo has not faced an OIA team this season, but have gone 4-1 against outer-island competition. Jason Mandaquit’s squad lost to Maryknoll 53-45 during the Hilo High Holiday Prep Classic, but followed that up with four consecutive wins over MIL schools at the Lahainaluna Invitational, including a 50-48 win over currently-ranked Baldwin, who has won 17 consecutive games going into the state tournament, starting after their Hilo loss.
The winner of that game faces number one seed Punahou on Thursday, once again at McKinley high school. OIA champion Kahuku has the second seed in the tournament, and will face either King Kekaulike or Kamehameha-Kapalama on Thursday at Radford’s Jim Allegre Gymnasium. BIIF champion Kamehameha-Hawaii is seeded third, and will face either AOP or Pearl City on Thursday. And, MIL champion Baldwin is designated the fourth seed. They take on either Kapolei or Leilehua at McKinley.
In Division II, all eight teams open play on Thursday at Farrington and Kaimuki high schools. Big Island champion Hawaii Preparatory Academy starts out at Kaimuki when they face Hanalani of the ILH.
Hanalani enters the tournament with a record of 12-2, winning their last six games of the season. The last win of that streak was the most important, a 64-38 win over Le Jardin to secure their spot in the state tournament. Kainoa Souza-Chaves may be one of the top scorers in this tournament, regardless of division. The six-foot senior has scored at least 20 points in his last five games, putting his season scoring average at 16.8 points per game.
Hawaii Prep enters the tournament as the number two seed, riding a league tournament win two weekends ago. After holding on to defeat St. Joseph by one point, they offered the perfect gameplan in their championship win over Kohala. Ka Makani offers several different scoring threats in their lineup. Dakota Berman is a sharp-shooter from the outside, while Jovan Crnic is a duel inside-and-out threat.
League runner-up Kohala opens the tournament against tournament top seed Kalaheo on Thursday at Farrington. The Mustangs of Kalaheo are the champions of the OIA white and winners of 11 of their last 12 games. Kalaheo went 2-2 against BIIF teams this year, losing to HPA and St. Joseph at the Kea’au / Waiakea Basketball Tournament last year. They beat Kealakehe and Honoka’a.
Kohala largely went under the radar this year, as the story of the year in West Hawaii was the Wildcats of Konawaena. But Don Fernandez’s young Cowboys, featuring three freshman, has played competitive basketball all season long. Their ticket to the state tournament was punched when they upset Pahoa in the league semifinal.
In other games, third seed Kapa’a out of the KIF will take on McKinley, while ILH champion St. Francis, seeded fourth, will take on MIL winner Seabury Hall.
The Big Island’s ESPN Radio will have coverage of the state tournament, beginning with Wednesday’s matchup between Hilo and Moanalua. Coverage continues Thursday with the 7 p.m. game between Kohala and Kalaheo. Semifinal coveage will be announced on Thursday night.