Team Aloha prepares for tourney


POSTED: Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Once the roster was set, there was no going back for Team Aloha.

Coach Dana Takahara-Dias had the team in perpetual motion for a workout that went nearly 3 hours Monday.

The all-star girls basketball team was selected by Mayor Mufi Hannemann and his hand-picked panel of coaches. After they made their cuts they introduced the 13-player squad Monday at Blaisdell Arena.

The team of underclassmen is comprised of: Kalei Adolpho (Molokai), Ashley Agcaoili (Maryknoll), Lia Galdeira (Konawaena), Kamie Imai (Waiakea), Kylie Maeda ('Iolani), Keaton McFadden (Mid-Pacific), Mysha Sataraka (Punahou), Brydgette Tatupu-Leopoldo (Farrington), Rachel Tailele (Kahuku), Milika Taufa (Lahainaluna), Mikela Thoemmes (Roosevelt), Maiki Viela (Lahainaluna) and Lori Yamashita ('Iolani).

A timed scrimmage revealed what the coaching staff knew all along: Team Aloha is athletic under the basket and has good ball movement and good quickness defensively. The team is also a bit out of shape at this point in the offseason, and hasn't formed a real chemistry yet.

The team was pared down from an invitation-only group of 22 players that participated in tryouts two weeks ago. Tryouts were a necessity because of the even field of talent. Some of the notable players who missed the cut were Kirsten Liana of Farrington and versatile Tayler Wang of Hawaii Prep.

Among those who made the team, Agcaoili may have been the most surprised. She was stellar during tryouts, shooting well from the perimeter and racing up and down the court with speed.

“;There was a lot of intensity and competition,”; she said. “;It'll be great to compete on the mainland and show the skills that us local girls have. Who would've thought that someone like me, from a Division II team, would be playing nationally?”;

On April 15, Team Aloha will leave for the Nike Elite tournament in Arizona, which the squad won in 2006 with Shawna-Lei Kuehu leading the way. This year's team doesn't have a dominant force like Kuehu, but the balance and scoring firepower are there.

Taufa, at 6 feet, has one of the best shooting strokes on the team. She's also in reasonably good shape, which can't be said for a good percentage of her teammates just yet. Coach Takahara-Dias made it a point to put her team through extensive conditioning drills.

“;The running is key. On the mainland, it's a fast tempo and if you're going to be good, you have to be in shape all year round,”; Taufa said.

The squad had another practice session yesterday before scrimmaging a team of former college players in the evening at Moanalua.


Honor for Amemiyas

Keith and Bonny Amemiya have long been known for reaching out to the community, particularly in interscholastic athletics. A recent honor from the Board of Education, however, was a new twist.

On Friday, the BOE honored the Amemiyas for their contributions to high school sports. The most recent project, the renovation of Roosevelt's stadium, was led in part by the Amemiyas. The installment of synthetic turf and a new scoreboard was the result of a unified effort by Roosevelt's alumni, the NFL and the Amemiyas.

“;Keith has ingenuity,”; BOE chairperson Garrett Toguchi said. “;He takes the initiative, goes out and gets the money for Roosevelt's stadium. He could've said, 'We'll leave it up to the state.' He went and found people willing to help the school. He's willing to step out of the box and find solutions.”;

The facility, since renamed Ticky Vasconcellos Stadium, services several schools in Honolulu.


National champion

Kala'e Johnson won the 108-pound weight class in the USGWA Girls National Championships on Sunday. Johnson, a two-time Oahu Interscholastic Association wrestling champion, made the trek with a team from Kahuku to Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti, Mich.

The title was a sweet close to her high school career. Johnson lost in this year's state semifinals.

“;The (national) title legitimizes her ability,”; coach Reggie Torres said. “;That final was a close match, but she takes it to you from start to finish.”;

It's not over just yet, though, for Johnson. The team will be in Reno, Nev., this weekend, where a horde of Hawaii wrestlers will compete in a boys tourney. Johnson plans to suit up and compete against the boys.