Kahuku's Ale, Iolani's Shoji kings of basketball court
For the first time since the 2001 season, there was no clear-cut choice for The Advertiser's Boys Basketball State Player of the Year award. So, after a vote of 10 coaches, officials and members of the media, the honor is shared by two seniors — Kahuku guard Junior Ale and Iolani forward Kawika Shoji.
"If you were to just choose the best basketball player in the state, then it probably would be Junior," said Iolani coach Mark Mugiishi, who guided the Raiders to a record fifth straight Hawaiian Airlines/Hawai'i High School Athletic Association championship. "But if you're choosing a 'Player of the Year,' and you look at who did more things at key moments in the biggest games throughout the entire year, then I think you would have to go with Kawika. If there were some way to honor both players, that would be perfect."
A strong case could certainly be made for both.
Ale, a 6-foot-1 point/wing, is a repeat first-team selection and added much responsibility this season. He already was a potent inside scorer, rebounder and shot-blocker, but with the Red Raiders' 2005 starting backcourt having used up its eligibility, Ale had to take on the added role of primary ball-handler, outside shooter and assist man.
He made as smooth an adjustment as anyone could have expected, leading the state by averaging 23.3 points per game in the regular and postseason while also contributing in almost every other fashion. In one of the greatest performances in recent O'ahu Interscholastic Association playoff history, Ale scored a career-high 38 points, grabbed 13 rebounds, dished out five assists, made two steals and blocked a shot to lead Kahuku to a 73-59 semifinal victory over Campbell.
"He definitely can score, but he also has a great attitude and isn't selfish," Mugiishi said. "He hit big shots in big moments, and there's no doubt Kahuku would not have gotten as far as they did (OIA runner-up, fourth in the state tournament) without his strong will to win."
By contrast, Shoji's statistics may seem modest — he averaged 14.2 points per game in the regular and postseason — until one considers the 6-4 small forward played in a platoon system. Also, the quality of his points, rebounds and blocks is magnified when factoring in when he collected many of those numbers.
"Kawika's biggest value is not tangible or measurable by stats," Mugiishi said. "He had great timing, in the sense that whenever we needed the big steal, basket, rebound or block, he would come through for us."
In the final 22 seconds of the Interscholastic League of Honolulu regular-season finale against Kamehameha, Shoji scored on a layup, skied high for a tremendous block and then sank two free throws to seal the 43-38 victory which forced a playoff for the championship.
In the title game a week later, he scored 10 points, grabbed four rebounds, blocked two shots and made a steal to help Iolani win its sixth straight ILH crown.
At the state tournament, Shoji scored a game-high 19 points — including the Raiders' first nine — in a 60-36 semifinal victory over Kahuku and then scored 10 points, grabbed seven rebounds, dished out two assists and made two steals in a 54-41 championship win over Kaimuki.
Shoji followed in the large footsteps of high-scoring former Iolani teammates and Advertiser State Players of the Year Kyle Pape (2005) and Derrick Low (2002, 2003, 2004).
"Kawika was mature enough to know that the way to fill Kyle's and Derrick's shoes was not to try to do things he couldn't do well, but to strengthen the parts of his game that he could do well," Mugiishi said. "As a leader, his enthusiasm, dedication and drive to win had a big impact on the whole team."
Ale and Shoji are joined on The Advertiser's All-State first team by Punahou guard Miah Ostrowski, Kamehameha guard Rykin Enos and Kaimuki forward Keone Reyes.
Ostrowski, a 5-9 junior, made the first team for the third straight year. He averaged 16.3 points per game in the ILH using his usual variety of spectacular open court moves to the basket and long-range shooting. Ostrowski is believed to be only the second player — Low was the first — to be named to The Advertiser's All-State first team as a freshman, sophomore and junior.
Enos, a 6-foot junior, led the Warriors to a surprising runner-up finish in the ILH and third-place showing in the state tournament by averaging 11.2 points per game and steadying the team with his leadership and clutch plays. Late in the regular season, he scored 16 points — including a running floater with seven seconds remaining in regulation — to help Kamehameha defeat Saint Louis, 54-49, in overtime.
In the first round of the state tournament, Enos scored 14 points and ended the game with a steal to preserve the Warriors' 51-49 victory over upset-minded Lahainaluna.
Reyes, a 6-foot forward, was a dominant presence under the basket and helped the Bulldogs win their first OIA championship since 1993 by scoring 18 points, grabbing 18 rebounds and sinking a free throw with four seconds remaining in the 44-43 title-game win over Kahuku. He averaged 12.8 points per game in the regular and postseason.
Kaimuki's Kelly Grant was named Coach of the Year after leading the Bulldogs (14-3) on an impressive postseason run despite losing top outside shooter Thomas Pyo to an ankle sprain in the OIA semifinals.
Pos. Player School Ht. Cl. G Vinny Nip Iolani 5-10 Sr. G Jeremiah Masoli Saint Louis 5-11 Sr. G Tyler Tsukazaki Maryknoll 5-11 Sr. F Gary Satterwhite Radford 6-2 Jr. F Beau Albrechtson Kaimukï 6-4 Jr.
Guards Tramaine Baquiring, Honoka‘a, Sr.; Cameron Bayne, Saint Louis, Sr.; Josh Bradbury, Kaua‘i, Sr.; Ryan Hayes, Campbell, Sr.; Matt Heyd, Baldwin, Sr.; Marvin Judd, Kaläheo, Sr.; Bao Jun Lei, Moanalua, Sr.; Ken Moses, Mililani, Sr.; Jordan Ranche, Word of Life, Sr.; Tristan Sealy, Campbell, Sr.; Jarrett Shiu, Kaimukï, Sr.; Chris Tumaneng, Kaläheo, Sr.; Wayne West, Moanalua, Sr.; Mea Wong, Kamehameha-Hawai‘i, Jr. Forwards/Centers Chris Aiwohi-Kegler, Kamehameha-Hawai‘i, Sr.; Tyler Caswell, Kaläheo, Jr.; Jacob Ho, Kamehameha, Sr.; Marcus Holyfield, Mid-Pacific, Fr.; Clayton Laurel, Leilehua, Sr.; Wally Marciel, Iolani, Sr.; Spencer McLachlin, Punahou, Jr.; Liloa Nobriga, Iolani, Fr.; Thomas Pyo, Kaimukï, Sr.; Scott Smith, Saint Louis, Jr.; Jon Takamura, Iolani, Sr.; Devin Unga, Kahuku, Sr.; Maika Vera, Lana‘i, Sr.