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Fernandez sparks evolving Kalaheo squad


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POSTED: Wednesday, December 30, 2009

SEVENTH IN A SERIES

For every team, there's a season.

For every coach, there's hope for evolution rather than de-evolution. Kalaheo is heading in the right direction.

After a struggle against upstart Roosevelt two weeks ago — a loss in the final of the Pete Smith Classic — Kalaheo has played with renewed passion.

The Mustangs have won five in a row since, including a 61-42 win over that same Roosevelt squad. Coach Chico Furtado's team, fueled by senior Aaron Fernandez, is playing the best basketball of any Oahu Interscholastic Association team.

Kalaheo is No. 4 in the Star-Bulletin Boys Basketball Preseason Top 10.

On paper: With Furtado back for perhaps his final season, the Mustangs are 8-1 in nonconference play, including a 62-58 win over Kahuku on Monday in the St. Francis Merv Lopes Classic. It was a good win for Kalaheo since Fernandez scored “;only”; 18 points in a win.

Despite facing myriad specialty defenses — primarily the box-and-one — Fernandez and the Mustangs have coped well. The bomber scored 41 points in a win over Campbell and 36 against Roosevelt.

For now, he's the one consistent scorer in the lineup. That was enough last season for Kalaheo to go 20-11 (11-6 OIA) and reach the state quarterfinals.

At some point, though, a good team will neutralize the talented 6-foot-3 forward and Kalaheo will have to find other ways to score.

The skinny: Kona Makaula is a streaky shooter who loves the mid-range baseline jumper. When teams box Fernandez, he finds gaps and can spark runs as he did in a win over Island Pacific.

Backcourt play is key, though, and until the Mustangs are efficient for an entire 32 minutes against fullcourt pressure, Furtado will not tolerate turnovers.

X factor: Fernandez has expanded his game. His enormous wingspan is a major part of his value. In the win over Island Pacific, he scored just 17 points, but grabbed 11 rebounds and had six steals with two blocks.

He's become a force especially on the offensive glass using finesse rather than brute strength.