Kamehameha coach excited about competition against mainland teams
The white mane of Clay Cockett arrives with more than three decades of coaching.
The longtime Kamehameha girls basketball coach will have another white hair or two this week. Kamehameha will battle Redondo Union (Calif.) tomorrow in the opening round of the Iolani Classic.
This season marks the first for girls basketball in the prestigious tournament. Kamehameha isn't exactly easy pickings for the visiting Seahawks. The Warriors are ranked No. 3 in the Star-Bulletin Girls Basketball Preseason Top 10.
Cockett, though, has concerns. His team fell to Iolani over the weekend in the final of the Wahine Warriors Classic at Kamehameha-Hawaii (Keaau), allowing 18 points by Raiders forward/center Jamie Smith.
"We had a struggle trying to guard Jamie, so we may struggle guarding a potential All-American," Cockett said.
That potential All-American is Atonye Nyingfa, who had 22 points and 14 rebounds in an MVP performance during the finals of the Battle of the Beach tournament over the weekend in California.
Another big contributor for Redondo Union is Javan Kizer, a 6-foot-3 senior who is a ferocious shot blocker and rebounder.
Other than that, Cockett is stoked about facing mainland competition.
"I think it's great. We've never had opportunities to play mainland teams other than in the summer. It's gonna be interesting and exciting for our Hawaii girls," he said. "(Mainland) teams are gonna want to come to Hawaii now."
Other teams in the girls tourney are Punahou, Moanalua, Roosevelt, Narbonne (Calif.), Granada (Calif.) and host Iolani.
The boys tourney, which features four national Top 25 teams, tips off Monday.
California powers to visit
For a second year in a row, MIL football will get a taste of California. Mission Viejo and Edison will play nonconference games this fall on the Valley Isle.
Mission Viejo, a perennial powerhouse, will meet MIL Division I champion Baldwin on Aug. 29 at War Memorial Stadium. Division II league champ Lahainaluna will face powerhouse Edison, most likely in the third week of August, according to athletic director Joe Balangitao.
Mission Viejo was 6-4-1 last season, including 3-1-1 in the South Coast League of the California Interscholastic Federation. One of its nonconference wins came against renowned Archbishop Moeller (Ohio).
Baldwin reached the semifinals of the Division I state championships for a third year in a row and lost to eventual state champion Leilehua.
The appeal of Maui is what drew Diablos coach Bob Johnson.
"We usually take a trip. (Last year) we went to Cincinnati, and my coaches said if we travel next year we're going left. They know I love Hawaii. One week later we decided we're going," Johnson said. "Both my sons coach with me and we love your islands. We used to take our families to Oahu, but now we won't touch the place. We go to the Kaanapali Alii every Easter. So I'll be scouting the island for things to do for our team."
Diablos quarterback Alan Bridgeford directs a pro-set offense and will be on the fall roster. "He'll get recruited pretty good. He'll be one of the top quarterbacks around here," Johnson said.
Mission Viejo had a "down year," Johnson said, that included a tie with San Clemente -- a team that routed Baldwin early in the fall.
Like Mission Viejo, Edison is a prominent team occasionally appearing on FoxSportsWest telecasts. The Tigers were 10-1-1 and won the County/Metro League with a 4-0 mark.
"They contacted us and said they were looking for a game, and (Lahainaluna coach) Bobby (Watson) said that was fine," Balangitao said.
Lahainaluna reached the finals of the Division II state championships before losing to Iolani.
Baldwin finished the season ranked No. 3 in the Star-Bulletin Top 10. Lahainaluna closed at No. 8.