The Hawaii High School Athletic Association’s Division 1 and Division 2 Girls Basketball Playoffs Kickoff Today. This has been an exciting season filled with thrills. Here is my breakdown of the Division 1 and Division 2 Bracket:

(D1) The Favorite: Iolani 

The Iolani Raiders are looking to repeat as Division 1 State Champions led by 1-2 punch Justice Kekauoha and Mele Sake. Although only a freshman, Kekauoha plays like an upperclassman as she has the skills, leadership, and poise. Sake is just a force inside who does a good job in protecting the paint, cleaning the glass, and providing strong inside scoring ability. The Raiders will also get strong contributions from Keiki McGee, Mia Frye, and Hailey Fernandez. 

(D1) The Dark Horse: Kamehameha-Kapalama/Kahuku Red Raiders

The Warriors have a solid 1-2 punch of their own in Rylee Paranada (excellent facilitator) and Nihoa Dunn (stretch four). Paranada does a phenomenal job in facilitating the offense and she plays extremely tough on defense to complement her team. Dunn adds another dimension as she plays well inside but is versatile to stretch the floor being able to score from mid and long range. 

The Warriors have depth and can also rely on valuable contributions from Mackenzie Alapai, Rylee Cabuyadao-Caswell, and Mikaylah Labanon. I expect the Warriors to take care of business against Kailua pinning the Warriors to match up with the Kahuku Red Raiders

The Red Raiders are peaking at the right time and have since improved tremendously since November. They are riding a 15 game win-streak behind solid play from Tailele Wily-Ava, Posia Wily, Elisa Holakeituai, Makana Kamakeeaina, and Tuisila Wily-Ava. Tailele is a freshman sensation who can do it all in running the point, locking up opponents defensively, and scoring. The inside presence of Holakeituai and Kamakeeaina has put the Red Raiders to be a dangerous draw in the playoffs. 

(D2) The Favorite: Maryknoll

The Spartans have not lost a game in 2024 and ride a 12 game win streak. Led by Hawaii High School Hoops Coaching Legend Chico Furtado, the Spartans have a balanced attack with all five starters able to score double digits every night. Leading the charge are guards Isabella Arrisgado and Hailey Perez. Perez and Arrisgado can score from all three levels and facilitate well. The X-Factor for the Spartans will be post Khansas Tuisamatatele who will be critical on the rebounds and protecting the paint.

(D2) The Dark Horse: Kamehameha-Hawaii

The Warriors from the Big Island impressed me when I watched them compete at the I Mua Invitational. Led by UH-Hilo signee, Keanu Huihui and Maela Honma, the Warriors are capable of lighting up the scoreboard. I expect the Warriors and Spartans to meet in an exciting semi-final match up on Thursday, February 8th. Both fields will be exciting to watch this year.

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