SPECIAL TO THE STAR-BULLETIN
Aritta Lane said she left Aiea and Hawaii because she wanted to travel and grow as a person.
the fast Lane
Aritta Lane hopes to make
her last year at Fresno State
a memorable season
Big week for lifetime Aiea resident Aritta Lane.
Celebrating her 21st birthday with family Tuesday was special, but Lane says she is looking forward to tonight even more.
She will lead the Fresno State Bulldogs against the Hawaii Rainbow Wahine in the opening game of the Western Athletic Conference basketball season (7 p.m. at the Stan Sheriff Center, live on KFVE).
It's Lane's senior year and likely her last basketball game at the UH arena. She hopes it will be like four seasons ago, when she cut down the nets after helping Aiea upset Kalaheo to win the 2001 HHSAA state championship.
She also hopes it will be like Fresno State's last game here on March 6, when she scored 16 points in a 64-53 victory.
"That was Vince Goo's last home game and their senior night," Lane recalled. "That was a huge win for us, especially for me."
Fresno State carried over the momentum from last season and comes to Honolulu with an 8-1 record, the best start in its history.
Lane, the four-year starter at power forward, was the team's leading scorer last year and most of this season.
She is currently second by 0.6 with an 11.3 average. She leads the Bulldogs in rebounding with 6.6 per game.
Lane has made 54.3 percent of her field-goal attempts (44 of 81). She matched her career high of 25 points against San Diego on Dec. 5 and has controlled 10 rebounds twice this season.
"They are playing an up-tempo game, and Aritta is great at breaking down court," said reporter Jeff Davis, who covers the Bulldogs for the Fresno Bee. "She runs the floor well and gets a lot of close shots either low or off transition."
This season, Lane has stepped up to a leadership role, Davis said.
"Last year she started out leading the WAC in scoring. The coach wanted her to be a go-to player, but Aritta couldn't handle it at first. Her numbers dropped and she developed brick hands. Toward the end of the year she settled down, as if to say, 'I am going to play.' "
Lane does not disagree.
"My freshman and sophomore years I was not ready to be in the game at crunch time," she said. "I wondered if I could ever do it. Now I am a senior and I feel I am ready for it now.
"It is not so much that my skill has changed," Lane added, "but I've grown as a person and understanding the game more."
Where she has not grown, Lane says, is in height.
"They list me at 6-feet on the roster, but we have measured every way we could think of and I am still 5-10 1/2 barefoot, not even close to 6-feet."
Like most of Oahu's best female basketball players, Lane got her start at Dennis Agena's Kalakaua Basketball Clinic. She enrolled in the sixth grade after her mother, Barbara, an English teacher at Moanalua High, nudged her toward playing sports.
"A lot of UH players worked out with us," she recalls. "In my eyes, I wasn't one of those."
Later -- after success at Aiea under coach Fran Villarmia-Kahawai and with Kalakaua traveling teams coached by Nani Cockett and Marlene Zeug -- Lane says she decided, "Why not use the talent you have to pay for your college education."
She accepted a full ride from Fresno State and made an immediate impact -- Lane finished third in the WAC in rebounding with 8.3 per game and was voted WAC Co-Freshman of the Year in 2001-02.
"I never would have thought this would happen to me," Lane said.
Lane has started 61 games in her Fresno State career, and has left her mark on the backboards and scoreboards of every arena in the WAC.
But she says the most significant thing that has happened to her in Fresno has been "growing up off the basketball court, where it all matters.
"I have grown tremendously at Fresno as a person ... calming down ... without my mom there to do things for me ... tell me when to study, when to go to sleep. I came here because I wanted to travel -- to learn and grow as a person. I bought a car with my own money, and I got to pay for the insurance."
She has made or will make basketball trips to New York, Louisiana, Texas, Alaska and more.
"Now, I have all these people I have to be a senior to. I have to hold my composure for them. ... I have a job that I have to take care of."
Tip-ins: Lane will graduate in December 2005 with a degree in mass communications and journalism with emphasis in public relations. She plans to work on the mainland and eventually get her master's degree.
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Local football players
Thirteen football players from Hawaii will suit up for New Year's Day bowl games.
Tennessee (9-3) vs. Texas A&M, Dallas, 6 a.m. (KHON)
Junior All-American Jesse Mahelona (Kealakehe '01) is a defensive tackle for the Vols. He led the SEC in tackles for loss with 18.5.
Wisconsin (9-3) vs. Georgia (9-2), Tampa, Fla., 6 a.m. ESPN
Junior center Donovan Raiola, a 2001 Kamehameha alum from Kaimuki, has started 24 straight games for the Badgers and was an honorable mention Pro Football Weekly All-American.
Redshirt freshman James Kamoku (Kealakehe '03) plays on special teams.
Senior punter R.J. Morse (Iolani '01 of Village Park) and senior defensive tackle Lyle Maiava (Saint Louis '01) are squad members.
Utah (11-0) vs. Pittsburgh (8-3), Tempe, Ariz., 3:30 p.m. (KITV)
Utah, No. 5 and 6 in the media and coaches' polls, has eight active players from Hawaii, including senior All-America right guard Chris Kemoe'atu (Kahuku '01) and sophomore starting left guard Tavo Tupola (Kahuku '99).
Senior long snapper Brady Parkhurst (Leilehua '99) also starts for the unbeaten Mountain West Conference champs.
Also on the Utah roster are redshirt freshman defensive back Malakai Mokofisi (Kailua '03); redshirt freshman linebacker Loma Olevao (Kahuku '00); senior defensive lineman Tevita Kemoe'atu (Kahuku '00); sophomore tight end Willie Sao (Kahuku '99 of Laie); and sophomore quarterback Chris Sokugawa (Saint Louis '02 of Waipahu).
Senior defensive back Kawika Casco (Lahainaluna '00) tore an anterior cruciate ligament in the opener, ending his season. He will seek an additional year of eligibility.
Freshman running back Ray Stowers (Iolani '04) redshirted and had surgery to repair shoulder damage from high school.
Freshman defensive back Afa Garrigan (Kahuku '04 of Hauula) redshirted.
Junior offensive lineman Siuaki Livai (Kahuku '99) dropped football to concentrate on academics and his family (his wife is expecting their first child in February).
Keith Uperesa (Punahou '74) was Utah's tight end coach this season but was let go when head coach Urban Meyer took the Florida job. Uperesa will be offensive line coach at UNLV next season.