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'Iolani ranked despite losing some key talent


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POSTED: Sunday, December 27, 2009

Eddie Maruyama likes those quiet moments on campus.

He likes them now, maybe, more than ever. The first-year head coach of the 'Iolani girls hoops program has already endured the highs and lows. As a co-athletic director, he saw a promising post scorer, Hailey Maeda, depart after her freshman season (prior to the 2008-09 school year) to Punahou when financial aid became a crucial issue.

Maruyama never planned to coach again, but when the position opened up in the offseason, he stepped in.

A trip to Beijing made the team closer, and playing college-level competition tested their mettle. By the start of December, the Raiders had plenty of optimism.

Then came an ACL injury to starting guard Kylie Maeda (no relation to Hailey) during the 'Iolani Classic, and now the Raiders are enduring another low point.

At this point, the Raiders could use some quiet time — practice time — to regroup. They've got the right coach to do it in Maruyama, who guided Moanalua's boys to state titles in 1996 and '97.

The Raiders enter ILH play ranked No. 7 in the Star-Bulletin Girls Basketball Preseason Top 10.

On paper: 'Iolani is 3-4 in nonconference play, posting wins over No. 8 Roosevelt, No. 10 Molokai and D-II power Kahuku. Two of the losses were to defending state champ Konawaena.

Even without Kylie Maeda, depth is not a problem with returning guards Lori Yamashita and Lahela Usui.

The skinny: Streaky shooter Georgette Lopes-Liutolo could help as a rebounder, especially with Mahina Haina out of the picture. Haina, a 5-foot-11 All-State volleyball player, has missed games in preseason.

X factor: Freshmen Alyssa Liilii (5-8) and Taimane Passi (5-11) could help sooner rather than later.