HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL
FL MORRIS / FMORRIS@STARBULLETIN.COM
Four-year starter Shanadee Canon, left, will do everything in her power to make the Kalaheo girls basketball team a contender for the Oahu Interscholastic Association title.
Canon, Mustangs try to shake off slow start
SHANADEE Canon and her Kalaheo Mustangs teammates had just about wrapped up their morning practice. Only one exercise remained: pressure free-throw shooting. The team broke into groups of four. If at least three didn't make their shot, the whole team would have to run sprints.
To the groans of many, the four -- including Canon -- couldn't get their foul shots to go down. One sprint. Two and three. Four, five and finally six sprints later, the exhausted Mustangs hit the locker room.
Canon pulled her weight, hitting her shot on all but one attempt. Yet she smiled and laughed the whole way down the court and back each time one of her teammates bricked a ball off the back iron.
She understands that for this year's Kalaheo girls basketball team, it's all about helping the Canon reload. Shan's been a team mainstay as a four-year starter, but now finds herself in a position of leadership when, over the past three years, the Mustangs have rarely had a shortage of senior swagger.
The 4-5 Mustangs (1-2 Oahu Interscholastic Association Red East) are in an unusual place, with new leaders on the court and sidelines.
RICHARD WALKER / RWALKER@STARBULLETIN.COM
Kalaheo four-year girls basketball starter Shanadee Canon leads the OIA in scoring with 20.7 points per game, but the Mustangs are off to a 1-2 start in conference games.
"I know our girls are young, for me, I want to expect a lot from them," said the 5-foot-8 senior from Waimanalo shortly after the free-throw drill. "But they can only do so much. All I want is for us to play hard and we gotta be together as a team, because good things happen to good people."
Kalaheo -- which tied for first in the OIA East and was runner-up for the OIA title last season -- graduated five seniors. That left Canon, the team's proven scorer, and senior point guard Delicia Wilson to guide a retooled team of two juniors and eight freshmen and sophomores.
To make things even more interesting, longtime Kalaheo coach Chico Furtado turned the keys to the girls program over to three-year junior varsity coach Ryan Hogue this year.
It's been tough so far. The Mustangs dropped their league opener to Roosevelt, 49-24, a game in which Canon scored 15 points but no one else on the team had more than three. A 48-44 heartbreaker against Kahuku followed, but the team rebounded to defeat Kaimuki 59-41.
Canon -- who leads the OIA with 20.7 points per game --thinks the talent is there if the team applies itself. So far in league play, Wilson is the only other Mustang to reach double figures in scoring.
"They all can play. Sometimes I talk to them individually and tell them to play how they (know how), because all of them are holding back," Canon said. "If you come out to play and work your hardest, we'll get far."
Canon's own game revolves around versatility. She has the ability to score from anywhere on the court, whether it be bombing from the perimeter or slashing to the basket. Hogue also has her play every position at times, as her wiry quickness allows her to burst past slower post defenders. She put up a season-high 26 on Kahuku, and went for a career-high 30 against Punahou in last year's preseason.
Canon evolved from point guard her first two years, to shooting guard last year and now is most comfortable at small forward.
Now, Hogue needs her to be a vocal source of inspiration, to impart some pride from years past.
She knows. Canon was around the Mustangs program since a young age, and was a team manager while still a student at Kailua Intermediate.
"Shan was around this program since its high point, with Brandy Richardson," said Hogue, a 1999 Kalaheo graduate who went on to play at Hawaii-Hilo.
"We're going through a bit of a rebuilding stage right now, so we're counting on her quite a bit to show these other girls what it's about, to be that backbone."
Wilson, who transferred from Kahuku after her sophomore year, respects the wide range of things Canon can do ... while playing basketball, anyway.
"She's so cool, seems like I've known her forever. On the court, she may be a person who's really, really aggressive, but off the court she's so friendly and kind of ditzy," Wilson said with a laugh.
When a joke goes over Canon's head, her friends tell her, "Houston, we have a problem."
With so much going on for Canon, it's not entirely her fault. While she also paddles, dances hula, surfs, and was on the volleyball team for the Mustangs last year, basketball is easily her primary passion.
With help from her father, Dwayne (a former Farrington player), she's honed her skill on a regulation-size halfcourt in her backyard, complete with paint and official dimensions.
Furtado knows all about Canon's ability after coaching her for three years. It was a tough decision to focus on the boys program and miss out on his star's final year.
"That was one of my main drawbacks for leaving this year, was making sure she was all right," said Furtado, who coached the girls for nine years. "But I thought she was strong enough to handle it."
He places Canon in some elite company: in the top five girls players he's coached.
"It'd be her, Brandy Richardson, Sharon Wahinekapu, Kim Taylor and Taylor Smith," Furtado said proudly.
Canon wants to play Division I basketball in college, but may play Division II locally if she is offered a scholarship because she wants to play in front of her family.
Meanwhile, she'll do all she can to help the Mustangs contend for a state playoff berth and build for future years.
"We've been through thick and thin and by us going through that, we've been working through it, and we just have to work together as a team," she said.
One missed free throw at a time.