Kamehameha's Big 3 will provide lots of punch


POSTED: Thursday, December 25, 2008

They have enough, but will it be enough?






        With league play in high school basketball approaching, the Star-Bulletin is counting down its preseason Top 10s, as determined in a poll of coaches and media members:


6. Mid-Pacific


5. KS-Kapalama


4. Tomorrow



The Kamehameha Warriors were once a dynasty in girls basketball. With eight state championships - five from 1988 to 1993 under Al Apo and three from '99 to 2002 under Clay Cockett - cutting down the nets come state-tournament time was almost the norm.

But times have changed. The influx of neighbor-island talent has dwindled with the opening of new campuses on Maui and the Big Island.

That's why, even with a No. 5 ranking in the Star-Bulletin Girls Basketball Preseason Top 10, expectations and hopes are always high for the Warriors (4-3).

“;We struggled against Farrington and Kahuku,”; Cockett said. “;I think this is a gross misrepresentation of the polls.”;

With three starters back, plus an experienced staff, voters think otherwise of the Warriors.

On paper: Last year's Warriors were competitive, 7-7 in the tough Interscholastic League of Honolulu (13-10 overall), losing to 'Iolani in the playoff for the ILH's second and final state berth.

Kamehameha finished ninth in the final Top 10 despite a lack of size. Rhani Kaneaiakala, a hard-nosed rebounder and scorer, graduated and is now playing at Hawaii Pacific. Also graduated are Tiana Abbley, one of its better perimeter shooters; Shaleese Javillo and Casey Lum.

The trio of Lindsey Wong, Pualei Furtado and Kylle Roy is very solid. Wong is a strong penetrator and able shooter with good court vision. Furtado is one of the state's top 3-point shooters and has excellent handles.

“;They've been together for three years now. They've seen some success, the good and bad of our teams,”; Cockett said. “;Hopefully, they can assert themselves as leaders.”;

Roy is quicker than most posts and has a big motor. She can run the floor with guards. Still, with only five returnees in all, the Warriors are in development mode.

“;We've made progress with our three veteran players and younger players,”; Cockett said.

The skinny: Beyond Roy, there hasn't been a lot of rebounding help. That leaves Cockett with limited options. If everyone crashes the boards defensively, there will be fewer fast-break opportunities. That means more halfcourt sets, which the Warriors run fairly well. Sporadic free-throw shooting, though, is an Achilles' heel.

The Warriors have some nice wins on their resume: No. 8 Waiakea, Roosevelt, Kaimuki. They've also learned from losses, including one to Lahainaluna.

Gauging a team under construction is tough.

“;It's hard to tell every game. Pua's been sick and has a sore ankle,”; Cockett said. “;A couple of our players got shoulder injuries against Pearl City and they can't practice right now.”;

Kamehameha will use zone and man-to-man defenses.

“;Because we're small, we need to play tougher defensively. Our block-out technique has to improve,”; Cockett said. “;And we've got to be able to handle pressure.”;

X factor: Depth is a key factor, particularly in the ILH. The Warriors have two weeks until the regular-season opener, perhaps enough time for some of their secondary players to emerge.