Red Raiders see top 10 for first time this season after 6 straight wins
After a 5-0 start in the regular season, the Kahuku Red Raiders are gaining the kind of attention normally reserved for their football team.
Kahuku landed in the Star-Bulletin Boys Basketball Top 10 at No. 8 yesterday, its first trip into the poll this season. Center Willie Ching, a 6-foot-5 senior, and guard Jray Galeai power the Red Raiders, but team chemistry is what coach Nathan James likes most.
James employs a three-guard offense with Jack Damuni and Irwin Ah-Hoy in the backcourt.
"Jack shot the ball extremely well against Kailua. He hit a couple of big 3s," James said.
Ah-Hoy, also a cornerback in football, gives Kahuku a stopper on the perimeter.
"On the defensive end, he's really been a sparkplug," James said. "He doesn't get rattled. He has a nice, even temperament and a calming influence."
Aulola Tonga, a 6-2 junior, complements Ching under the basket. The combination works well; Kahuku has won six games in a row dating back to the Merv Lopes Classic.
Key road wins over Castle and Kailua were valuable, and clutch wins over Moanalua and Kaimuki have the Red Raiders on a roll. Down the road, every game will be key for playoff seeding.
James is disappointed with the scheduling, to say the least. Kahuku's final regular-season game with Kalaheo was moved away from home to Mililani's gym for TV purposes.
"That's our homecoming game, with our seniors' parting shot. The parents always do a big potluck," James said, noting that Kalaheo gets to keep its home game this Friday against his team.
"We lose the home court (advantage)," James said. "I don't like it, and you can quote me on that."
Star-Bulletin All-State first-team safety Shiloah Te'o
of Kahuku has softened up a bit. Te'o has pulled back on his oral commitment to BYU and is now a "soft verbal" commit because the Cougars want him to move to linebacker. Utah and Hawaii are among the schools still on his list.
HPA breaks through
Hawaii Prep ended a four-year drought against Konawaena in girls soccer last weekend with a 4-1 win.
Like Konawaena, Ka Makani have long been a soccer power in the Big Island Interscholastic Federation. Since the Division II state soccer championships began two years ago, Hawaii Prep became a D-II power while Konawaena played in D-I.
New place, familiar face
Former Kalani boys basketball coach Mark Pacarro
has surfaced at Saint Louis, where he teaches and is the school's Division II head coach. Pacarro was the coach when Kalani reached the state tournament with high-scoring Everett Frye
at guard. He was co-athletic director at Word of Life before moving to Saint Louis.
The Maryknoll boys basketball team continues to hang in there with the powerhouses of the Interscholastic League of Honolulu. Last week, the Spartans beat Damien, but lost to Punahou and Iolani.
The Spartans fell behind by 21 early at Iolani, but managed to pull within five before losing.
"I have a lot of new guys and the big atmosphere got them nervous," Maryknoll coach Steven Hathaway said. "They looked shaky in warmups, their shots were short, they were short-arming their shot. You could see they weren't following through."
The Spartans, a team without a home gym, showed some mettle after halftime.
"I told them (to) stop looking at the front of (Iolani's) jerseys," Hathaway said. "I can't be mad that we lost. Past teams here down 20 just folded."
Maryknoll's rally has Hathaway optimistic.
"This team thought they were really going to win the game. I think we can build on this going into our Kamehameha game on Friday," he said.