Lee finally gets elusive state title


POSTED: Monday, February 16, 2009

By Chris Lee's words alone, he is an even-keeled leader of young men.

Face to face, though, he is human through and through. A year ago, after his 'Iolani team lost a close state title match to Kamehameha, the tears welled up as he talked with media, his voice calm and consistent.

Those seniors he grew so close to were leaving high school without a state title. He hurt for them.

On Saturday, his years of patience as an assistant and head coach were rewarded. The Raiders won their first boys soccer state title since 2000.

Lee wasn't visibly ecstatic. He was simply grateful.

“;Fortunately, we were in the right place at the right time,”; he said. A moment after he counted his blessings, Lee saw a scrum of 'Iolani fans pounce on forward Nick Goo, drenching him with water and piling on.

The season was done, but Lee's focus of attention turned to the junior anyway.

“;He has a hairline fracture,”; Lee said of Goo's collarbone. The coach kept an eye on the pileup for nearly a minute before returning to the interview.

If Lee's bond to his student-athletes seems close, it's sort of in the bloodline. His father-in-law is Waianae football coaching legend Larry Ginoza, who was on hand to watch the title match.


Big Green Machine

The Kapaa Warriors clearly had an edge in fan support as they won their first boys soccer Division II crown on Saturday. At least 100 fans cheered their hearts out from start to finish at blustery, cold Waipio Peninsula Soccer Stadium as the Warriors rallied past Hawaii Prep 3-1.

Kapaa's crown cements a growing reputation as a force in the sport. The Warriors did it with talent, skill and, most of all, work ethic.

Some of Kapaa's conditioning workouts made this a season to remember. There were 3-mile runs from Kapaa Beach Park to Kealia Point and back—while carrying heavy football tackling dummies—and 2-mile jaunts up Nounou Mountain ridge as recently as last week.

“;All that work was worth it,”; said coach Kevin Cram, who runs with the team. “;We knew HPA would be strong, but we knew we could match up.”;

While Ikaika Fuerte led a group that included 11 seniors, the Warriors weren't forgotten by their former teammate, Chance Bukoski. The former Star-Bulletin All-State player is playing for Hawaii Pacific University now, but during Christmas break, made his way back to his old school to work out with the team.

Any extra help was appreciated by Kapaa, which played just eight regular-season matches.

“;The rest of the state plays 15 games and that gives them a chance to jell,”; Cram noted. “;But we knew we had the skill level to play with them.”;

Playoffs were about choices

Two weeks ago, the Mililani girls basketball team was on the verge of cracking the Star-Bulletin Top 10.

On Friday, the Trojans were ousted from the Oahu Interscholastic Association Red double-elimination tournament. How did it all slip away so quickly?

The Trojans were just one of the teams that were torched by the league's hottest team, Roosevelt, last week. Twenty-four hours later, Mililani lost to Kailua, 32-29, and the season was over.

The biggest factor, though, may have been the loss of center Pomai Grube-Hose. In a year of parity for every league, the OIA was no exception. A missing player made a significant difference for the Trojans, who had only one true post player to battle Roosevelt's trio of Mikela Thoemmes, Tasia Kamakawiwoole and Joshy Noga.

Grube-Hose, a college volleyball prospect, was gone to Las Vegas for a club volleyball tournament. In other words, lots of potential recruiters were there.

Farrington and McKinley also shared the pain caused by that volleyball tourney in Sin City. Governors guard/forward Valerie Lesu was absent through the week while playing in the volleyball event. Farrington suffered its first loss in OIA play, losing to Roosevelt 62-60.

McKinley felt the sting more, though. Senior guard Brenda Walker, one of the Tigers' best rebounders, also left town to play in Las Vegas. McKinley lost to Moanalua in overtime, 37-34, and fell 47-40 to Aiea.

Unlike Farrington, which is still alive in the new double-elimination format, McKinley's season is suddenly over. The Tigers had won eight of their 11 OIA games at one point.

For Kailua, though, making the state tournament was a sweet reward for a gritty effort. The Surfriders lost leading scorer Ashley Jacobs to a hand injury suffered in physical education class on the day of their first playoff game against Radford, which they won 34-28.

After a 48-16 loss to Farrington, the Surfriders could've packed it up. Instead, they came back and ripped through Mililani and Moanalua to claim a state berth.


Terrific Terai

It would be pretty easy for any player on an 0-10 team to hit the cruise-control button. Tyler Terai thinks differently.

The senior guard continues to put up strong scoring numbers and play all-out on both ends of the floor even as the Maryknoll boys basketball team struggles with an extremely young lineup. Terai poured in 37 points recently against Damien, but the Spartans lost in the final minute.

“;I try to do my best every time, no matter if we're losing or winning. You can only get better. If I slack, everybody else will slack as well,”; said Terai, who was one of the young guns on a senior-heavy team last year.

Maryknoll was 5-9 in ILH play last season, losing 46-40 to Kamehameha in the postseason tournament. Ten seniors graduated and this year's team is loaded with first-year players, but Terai has embraced his role as a leader.

“;I love playing. When things go bad, sometimes there's nothing you can do but keep playing. We have a lot of inexperienced guys on the team, but we have to keep playing with that,”; he said.

First-year coach Byron Mello, Terai added, has the program going in the right direction.

“;Coach Mello is pretty intense. He gets on you and stuff, but overall he's good. He knew it would be kind of a rebuilding season. They'll have lots of experience next year,”; he said.