Wednesday, May 19, 2004


Members of the St. Andrew's Priory girls basketball team are, clockwise, Lois Ornellas (holding basketball), Caasi Nakasone, Kristen Cortez, Kimi Tom, Jazmin Morrill, Emi Klapproth, Kekai Richards, Lindsey Kawahakui, Lindsey Higa, Holly Saito, Laurie Miyasato (middle left) and Ashley Jung (middle right).

The Pride
of St. Andrew’s

The school's girls basketball team
has brought the excitement back
to the campus of 200 students

While watching the motion picture "Hoosiers," Lois Ornellas couldn't help but notice at least one similarity between tiny Hickory High and equally small St. Andrew's Priory; the school with fewer than 200 students she will lead into the Division II portion of this weekend's Hawaiian Airlines Girls State Basketball Championships.

"The coaches are kind of similar in a way," Ornellas said with a laugh, comparing her own coach, Ross Kinsler, to Norman Dale, the character played by Gene Hackman in the movie.

"Maybe you shouldn't put that in ... I guess it's OK," she added after a moment. "I didn't see the ending because I had to go somewhere. I'll have to watch it again. Do they (Hickory) win at the end?"

ORNELLAS WILL HAVE a chance to help write a storybook ending of her own for Priory this weekend. She and her teammates have been the talk of St. Andrew's.

"It's been very exciting around here," said St. Andrew's athletic director Missy Kilbey. "We've always had girls who were successful as individuals, but our teams have really risen to the occasion.

"It's a real thrill for the girls, so we hope to get a lot of fans out to the games."

Attendance has been good at the Pride's games this season, complementing an already ideal atmosphere. Indeed, the James B. Castle gymnasium holds sound not unlike the gym in Knightstown, Ind., where "Hoosiers" was filmed. The Stan Sheriff Center, which hosts this weekend's state tourney, represents a larger venue, but the Pride have met seemingly every challenge this season.

"It is just another court, except that more people can watch," Ornellas said.

In a sense, St. Andrew's postseason began weeks ago. On April 15, the Pride had to beat University to have a chance at qualifying just for the opportunity to position themselves for a D-II state tournament berth. They won that game 60-40 and have captured six of their last eight games, including four in a row.

"Prior to that game, we hadn't been communicating well on the court, and that's not how a state tournament team plays," Ornellas said.

Added junior guard Caasi Nakasone: "It was the turning point. We had to win, and that's been the situation every game since."

The Pride punched their ticket for the state tournament with back-to-back wins over Word of Life, which gave St. Andrew's the Interscholastic League of Honolulu's only berth in the D-II states.

In a sense, St. Andrew's began preparing for the 2004 postseason back in 2002. Kinsler took over as its head coach that year, after stints as the boys coach at both Assets and Waianae. He has since added associate coach Chad Mizunaka and assistant Tiffany Seiki to his staff. Seiki played on Aiea's state title team in 2001.

Kinsler's approach has been largely influenced by former UCLA coach John Wooden, whose pyramid of success has provided him a useful paradigm as coach at St. Andrew's.

"We want to know that when we walk off the floor, we've given our best effort," Kinsler said. "We want the girls to play with poise, confidence and competitive greatness. I sometimes quiz the girls on those three things."

Kinsler is proud to report that all seven of his graduating seniors are bound for college next fall. Of course, a state championship would be the ideal accomplishment for this close-knit group.

Priory's on-the-court prospects for next spring look pretty good, too. Nakasone and fellow junior Holly Saito are the team's leading scorers, averaging 15 points per game. But for all their offensive productivity, St. Andrew's attributes its success to its team unity.

Rounding out the St. Andrew's team are seniors Lindsey Higa, Kristen Cortez, Lindsey Kawahakui, Jazmin Morrill, Kimi Tom, Kekai Richards and juniors Emily Klapproth, Ashley Jung and Laurie Miyasato.

"We all support each other," Saito said. "This year, we've really come together, not only in practice, but off the court as well. I could see growth in every girl on the team in the years we've been together. When we had our meeting, there were negative and positive things (discussed), but everyone took it as positive criticism and we went on. We've all stepped it up."

A motto offered by Mizunaka -- "Hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard" -- has become the team's rallying point.

"That clicked with all of us," Nakasone said. "You have to really want something to get it."



May 11: St. Andrew's 47, Word of Life 28
May 8: St. Andrew's 52, Word of Life 43 (OT)
May 1: St. Andrew's 46, Hawaii Baptist 40
April 30: St. Andrew's 69, Punahou 48
April 27: Kamehameha 54, St. Andrew's 31
April 23: St. Andrew's 54, La Pietra 31
April 20: Hawaii Baptist 38, St. Andrew's 34
April 15: St. Andrew's 60, University 40
April 13: La Pietra 52, St. Andrew's 46
April 10: St. Andrew's 52, Hanalani 41
April 6: Kamehameha 34, St. Andrew's 29
April 2: Word of Life 50, St. Andrew's 28
March 31: St. Andrew's 55, Punahou 41
March 20: St. Andrew's 26, Iolani 20
March 16: Hawaii Baptist 40, St. Andrew's 28
March 12: St. Andrew's 54, Christian 38

Includes playoff games


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