Sunday, February 25, 2007

Tentative Schedule - 2/26/07 through 3/3/07

The winter season state championships are almost complete. They are a lot of fun to cover, but also a tremendous amount of work. Covering about 4 softball, soccer or basketball games a day is a lot. And, this week it's wrestling. Wrestling is only 2 days, Friday and Saturday, but they tend to be very long days.

I do have a few days I can devote to Iolani events this week, and next week I hope to get back to complete Iolani coverage.

Monday - JV Baseball at Punahou
Tuesday - Boys Varsity Tennis
Wednesday - "High School Musical" - yes, I will be covering the dress rehearsal, so photos will be available
Thursday - Undecided, may not be able to cover anything due to "High School Musical"
Friday - Wrestling State Championships
Saturday - Wrestling State Championships

Sunday, February 18, 2007

2007 HHSAA Boys Soccer State Championships

After watching almost every game and every team in this tournament, I have a few observations.

First of all, Punahou is a fine and worthy champion. This is a team that you can never count out. In their first game, against Kealakehe, it was scoreless until Caton Smith found the back of the net at 56:00. Final score, 1-0.

In the quarterfinals, Punahou really showed what they were made of against KS-Maui. At 60:00, Kelii Dias of KS-Maui gave his team a 1-0 lead. This lead held up until 80:00, yes 80:00, when Christopher Walker tied it with a PK. The game went to overtime where John Cowen scored 2 minutes later. Final score, 2-1.

In the semi-finals, Punahou went up against Roosevelt. Roosevelt had pulled the upset of the tournament, beating a talented, powerful (but maybe overconfident?) Kapolei team, 4-1. Could the magic continue against Punahou? No, Punahou went on a scoring spree with the largest scoring total of their season. Final score, 10-1.

In the finals, Punahou would go up against an extremely fast and talented Kalani team. Kalani had beaten Kalaheo, 3-1, in the first round. In the quarters, Kalani beat fourth seeded Makua Lani in a closely contested game, 1-0. In the semis, it was a 2-0 win over Leilehua.

I like the Kalani team. It reminds me of the Iolani team - small, fast, smart, and good passing. I guess that's not surprising since the Kalani coach, Myles Arakawa, is a former Iolani coach who led the Raiders to championships in 1997 and 2000. I expected this to be a good, close game. And it was.

Kalani scored first, with the goal going to Carter Kam at 14:00. Punahou tied it up at 33:00 when Alessi Sia found the back of the net. Kalani answered at 55:00 when Danny Higa gave the Falcons the lead. Punahou's size, strength and depth was starting to take it's toll, though, and Deryck Lim tied it at 66:00. Then, in the last minute, Ben Strand won it for the Buffanblu.

This was a great final match between two talented teams. But, what I really liked about this matchup, was these teams had great attitudes. They never gave up and they played as a team.

And, what a great present to give retiring Punahou head coach, Bob Clague, who first won this tournament in 1976 and many times since then.

Great tournament!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

HHSAA Girls Soccer State Championships 2007

My congratulations to Kamehameha-Kapalama! This is a worthy champion. Their speed and skill was impressive and a joy to watch.

Also, to Pac-5, who won a double over time, shootout over Mid-Pacific for the Div II crown. What a game!

A few thoughts I had as I watched almost all of the games in this tournament:

1. This was another well run, fun tournament for all the participants.
2. There is quite a large difference between Div I and Div II. They play at a different speed.
3. As I watched all the Div I teams, I couldn't escape the nagging feeling that some of the best teams were left out of this tournament, specifically Punahou and Iolani. I watch the ILH all season and, without any stats to back me up, I can say that these teams were good enough to not only be in this tournament, they would have been somewhere near the top.

If you have scores of head-to-head matches between Punahou or Iolani and the teams that were in this state championship, please send them to me. I'm especially interested in the pre-season tournaments where there was a lot of league crossover. This topic will be the subject of a future article.

Also, if you have thoughts on the selection process for girls soccer, please email me. I know it is a difficult task to choose the teams fairly, but it seems to me that in girls soccer, at least, a little tweeking is in order.

Thank you.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

HHSAA State Softball Champs Musings

I love the idea of high school state championships. All the athletes I know strive to qualify for these tournaments. The athletes and teams that make it have to work hard and improve themselves. It's not easy to qualify and it's even harder to win.

A problem I've seen in the past is that I don't think the best teams are always in the tournament. I know this is very difficult to accomplish and it's a tough numbers game that sometimes leaves deserving teams out in the cold. Last year, I believe that happened in certain sports, volleyball, basketball and soccer immediately come to mind, but there are probably more that I'm just not too familiar with.

I really like the idea of the stronger leagues having a "play in" possibility to qualify where the team that just misses qualifying has a chance to make it by beating a team from another league who also has just missed. This is why the wildcard games in major league baseball were instituted. I like it and see that it's starting to happen in the HHSAA tournaments. This is a great trend and I hope it continues.

That said, and I am the first to admit I'm not an expert on softball, it seems to me that softball worked out really well this year. I saw many ILH games during the regular season and I spent about 6 hours a day at the HHSAA Championships this year, so I guess that either makes me a bit crazy and/or gives me a bit of background to say the results were accurate.

I'm really only talking about Division I because I really didn't see enough of Division II to comment (but I really like that Division II exists). The final results were Baldwin, Mililani, Iolani and St. Francis. I saw almost all of Iolani's games this year, know most of the girls, and have to say I'm totally biased in my thinking about them. I also saw St. Francis quite a bit. Mililani and Baldwin I hadn't seen at all until this tournament, although I heard that they were both powerhouses. And they were.

Both Mililani and Baldwin have outstanding pitchers which gave them the edge and the means to make the finals. All four teams have a strong defense and can hit. It's the pitchers, though, that in my opinion made the difference.

Baldwin has Nicole Alconcel and Mililani has Makani Duhaylonsod. I saw them both pitch a few games and they were awesome. I love Makani's changeup. Added to her power it really makes her tough. Nicole, what can I say, if I could pick one pitcher to build a team around, she'd be on the top of my list. Not only is she a great pitcher, she is an all around outstanding athlete and dynamite with the bat.

So, my kudos to the HHSAA for doing a great job with this tournament. Getting the right teams to vie for the championship and running a smooth tournament is not easy. Baldwin and Mililani are both super teams, they deserved to make the finals, and Baldwin is a very worth state champion.

Friday, February 02, 2007

HHSAA Softball Championships

Sorry, loyal readers. I know I've been remiss in my blogging, but it's not because I'm on vacation. I've been at the HHSAA Softball Championships quite a bit, more on this later.

On Tuesday I was hoping to do boys paddling. I've had quite a few requests to cover paddling and I finally had a chance. Of course, the wind was bad on Tuesday and it got cancelled.

Wednesday and Thursday, I've been over at Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium mainly covering our Lady Raiders but also doing and watching some other games. Our Raiders have been playing and looking like champs. They won the first game against Moanalua, 10-4, on Wednesday.
The girls are hitting well, defense has been superb, and the pitchers have been in control. I HOPE IT CONTINUES! Tonight we play Mililani at 8pm in the semi-finals. Please come out and support this team. If you absolutely can't make it, it will be televised on OC16.