Kapolei And Pearl City Prep For State Basketball Tourney

To think of Kapolei High and Pearl City High in the month of February is to invariably think soccer, given their winning traditions over the long haul. That was until this season when both schools’ boys’ basketball teams had months of January to remember.

A glance at each team’s post-season resume follows as Kapolei and Pearl City both get ready to tip off this week’s Hawaiian Airlines State Division I Basketball Tournament. (Pairings for the State Tournament were to be revealed late Sunday after MidWeek had gone to print.)


Record: (14-0 versus league foes, heading into last Thursday’s Oahu Interscholastic Association Red Championship game)

Head Coach: Gary Ellison

Signature Wins: The Hurricanes got everyone’s attention after opening their OIA slate with wins over established powers Campbell (67-52 on the road) and Leilehua (60-56 at home) in a three-day span back in January.

Kapolei also won at Mililani (48-46) and defeated previously unbeaten Kahuku in the Championship round of the Conference Tournament Feb. 10 en route to advancing to the OIA title game.

What to Watch This Week: The Hurricanes flew as under-the-radar as any team could, having compiled a 16-1 mark since midDecember, including preseason games. Regardless of their fate late last week in the OIA Tournament, Kapolei was not expected to come out of the West as the champion in a league that also features Campbell, Mililani and Leilehua.

The Hurricanes have reached this point with their balance and their ability to play well together as a unit, as Kiatrell Zachary, Curtis Tavares, Zach Reeves, Joshua Wills, Joshua Farias and Christopher Dillard have all come through with big games this season.

Defense has been Kapolei’s forte, as the Hurricanes have held all but three of their last 14 opponents to under 50 points.

Quotable: Kapolei head boys’ soccer coach Bryce Kaneshiro on Hurricanes’ basketball standout Curtis Tavares: “Curtis is a very good soccer player and was probably good enough to start for us. He told me, ‘Coach, I want to be part of the first basketball team at Kapolei to win an OIA championship.’ I’m hoping that happens for him.”

MVP: Chris Dillard. The junior post player has been the Hurricanes’ most consistent performer on both ends of the floor on a team that has been perhaps the most consistent in the state. He enters this week’s tournament averaging 11.8 points per game and, more important, is one of the team’s best defenders as well.

Pearl City

Record: 11-8 overall, including preseason games. The Chargers went 7-3 versus OIA opponents, including a 3-2 mark in the recent Conference Tournament.

Head Coach: Lionel Villarmia

Signature Wins: A 4425 road win over a good Campbell team Jan. 27 was the highlight of a solid regular season for Pearl City. The Chargers also opened the OIA Tournament with an impressive win over East-foe Castle (4138 on 1/31) and beat Mililani (36-27) Feb.10 to officially punch their ticket for this week’s State Tournament.

What to Watch This Week: Like Kapolei, Pearl City also has been one of the best defensive teams around this season, a good omen at State Tournament time.

The Chargers have held nine of their last 13 opponents to under 40 points. If they can come close to those numbers this week, they figure to have an impact on the tournament, where half-court defense is usually at the forefront.

On the offensive end, Villarmia will count on veterans Marc Suniga, Kailon Sabate and Paul Perry III to provide the scoring needed to push Pearl City over the top.

Chargers Fact: Entering this week’s State Tournament, Pearl City is 7-1 when scoring 40 points or more.

Offensive MVP: Kailon Sabate. The senior guard has had some huge games of late, posting 18 and 19 points, respectively, in backto-back games against Castle and Moanalua at the OIA Tournament. The tandem of him and Suniga is a pairing worth watching at this week’s State Tournament.

Defensive MVP: Paul Perry III. Said Villarmia: “Paul plays bigger than he is (5-foot-10). He’s a leader on defense and he rebounds well. Marc always guards the other team’s best player. He can guard a One (guard) to a Four (post player). He’s quick with long arms and long legs.”