Hosted at it’s new location, Manoa Recreation Center, the annual Merv Lopes Holiday Classic has become yet another successful basketball tournament.
Not only did this tournament consist of a boys tournament, but this year Saint Francis added a girls tournament to this annual classic.
Coordinator and Coach, Sol Batoon said, “This year was very successful. There was a high attendance, good competition, and we hosted the top four teams in the state which made it a better quality tournament.,” when asked about his thoughts of this year’s tournament.
Featured in the boy’s tournament were the top four teams in boys varsity basketball, consisting of Farrington, Punahou, Leilehua, and Kamehameha Big Island. The girls tournament also had two of the top teams for the girls varsity; Mid-Pacific Institute and Maryknoll High School.
To widen the competition, Saint Francis hosted teams not from the island of Oahu. Kamehameha Big Island’s boys and girls varsity teams were welcomed to the tournament as well as Mount Douglas Secondary School (Canada), and Houston High School (Alaska). Other than these outer island teams, the tournament consisted of teams from the Interscholastic League of Honolulu and the Oahu Interscholastic Association.
History was made for Saint Francis School as the Merv Lopes classic named the second team all-tournament teams, as well as the champions for the three-point shooting contest. After putting up a season high of 26 points during one of the Saints’ games, sophomore Keoni Tom-Millare made second team all-tournament; being the first boy representing Saint Francis to be named second team. Hitting three three-pointers as well as the extra 3 point money shot during the three-point shooting contest, junior Jasmine Soon was announced the first girls three-point shooting competition winner.
Aside from the exciting games that were played and aside from an amusing three-point competition, the real reason as to why these teams are joined here is no surprise.
Many people contemplate the reason as to why Saint Francis hosts a tournament for Merv Lopes and many people who haven’t read his story in the Classic program wonder who Merv Lopes really is.
“Coach Merv Lopes is an icon for basketball in Hawaii,” praises Coach Sol Batoon. Leading the Chaminade basketball team to one of ESPN’s top 20 upsets in college basketball by defeating the number one ranked Virginia Cavaliers in 1982, Coach Merv Lopes has become a basketball legend.
Alumni of Iolani School as well as San Jose State, Coach Merv coached at Kailua High School as well as Kalaheo High School before coaching at Chaminade University. He currently resides on the Big Island, and has been the camp coordinator for the Pete Newell Big Man Camp in Las Vegas and Honolulu for the past ten years. He coached the Western Samoa National basketball team and it is currently his seventh season helping to coach the CBA team in Hangzhou, China.
Coach Merv has truly been a profound and inspiring person and coach throughout his life.
Next year’s tournament look’s very promising, with more good competition for both the boys and girls.