Wednesday, February 21, 2001
Family of MulesNone of the Leilehua basketball players were alive when the Sister Sledge song, "We Are Family," became popular in the late '70s.
can be lethal
Leilehua a dangerous draw
in boys basketball state
By Tim Crouse
Special to the Star-Bulletin
But this year's team could use it as a theme song.
"We don't even think of ourselves as a team, we're more like a family," senior Ricardo Bachelor said.
Despite being unseeded, Leilehua could be one of the most dangerous teams in the Hawaiian Airlines Boys State Basketball Championship, which starts today at two sites.
The tournament runs through Saturday, with the championship game scheduled for 8 p.m. at the Stan Sheriff Center.
Leilehua is led by a nucleus of four senior starters -- including three who have played on the varsity levels for three years and two who have been playing together practically their whole lives.
"Me and Clif (Feliciano) have known each other since we were 9 or 10," guard Joshua Jumawan said. "We grew up playing basketball together."
Garland Gantt is the third senior who is in his third season on varsity.
"This is a close group," he said. "We all hang out (off the court). This year is special. We had a foundation and everybody came together. We knew the program already and we just got wiser and smarter as we aged."
Said coach Keith Spencer: "I've always taught that we've got to be like family. But I think of all the five years I've been coaching here, this is the team that really took it to heart. They believe in one another."
The Mules won the consolation championship of the state tournament last year and entered the season with their key players returning and the addition of sophomore Eric Marshall.
"They had open arms (for him) because they saw him play last year (on junior varsity) and they knew he was the missing piece of the puzzle," Spencer said. "They took Eric under their wings and welcomed him to the program."
Bachelor, Jumawan, Gantt and Marshall all averaged double figures in scoring during the Oahu Interscholastic Association regular season.
Leilehua made the regular season look easy, winning the Western Division with a 9-0 record.
The Mules' only loss was to the hands of Mililani in the semifinals of the OIA Tournament last week.
"It was actually good for us because it showed us we could be beaten," Gantt said. "It brought us back to reality."
Leilehua has one basketball state championship banner hanging in its gym, from 1973.
"I used to come in (the gym) in the eighth grade when we had clinics and I would look at the banner and the pictures (lining the hallways)," Jumawan said. "We have so much tradition."Here is a capsule look at the 12-team field:
Kalaheo (13-0)OIA champion, No. 1 seed, two state championships (most recently in 1995), coach Pete Smith:
Senior point guard Skyler Wilson led the OIA East in scoring with 17 points a game, and junior guard D.C. Daniels added 13 more per contest.
At 6-foot-6, junior Ikaika Francis controls the middle on both ends of the court. Junior forward C.J. Kaimiola also adds to the front line.
Shaydon Marumoto -- the only senior to start besides Wilson -- is the top defensive player.
The Mustangs beat Iolani in the preseason, and their only loss was in a mainland tournament.
In the past six state tournaments, Kalaheo won once and finished second three times and third once.
Iolani (11-1)Interscholastic League of Honolulu champion, No. 2 seed, three championships (most recently in 1998), coach Mark Mugiishi:
Freshman playmaker Derrick Low is one of the state's top guards. He can run the fast break, break defensive pressure with his dribble and run an effective half-court offense.
Travis McGaughy is the only senior that played during the year (there are several others who have been called up from the JV). He led the ILH in 3-point shooting and brings intensity and energy.
Junior Bobby Webster, at 6-2, has played consistently well throughout the season. Webster is the team's best defender off the ball, and McGaughy is the best cover man. Sophomore Bobby Nash, at 6-6, and junior Tyler McCready, at 6-5, pose problems on the inside.
The young team can play any style or tempo, and has a good bench.
Iolani beat Baldwin, Maui and Leilehua in the preseason.
Baldwin (13-4)Maui Interscholastic League runner-up, no championships, coach Wayne Gushiken:
Point guard Chris Dagulo, at 5-9, is the key for the Bears, who made it to the semifinals of last year's tournament.
Junior guard A.J. Garbin -- the younger brother of the Bears' soccer star Nicole -- is the team's defensive specialist.
Reed Suzuki, who also played well in last year's tournament, is the first man off the bench. Alika Amasiu (6-0) is a rugged defender inside.
Baldwin lacks height and must rely on quickness. The Bears play eight players deep.
Baldwin lost two playoff games to Maui and also lost to Iolani and Waiakea in the preseason.
Maui (15-2)MIL champion, No. 4 seed, no championships, coach Bill Naylor:
Junior center Dio Dante, at 6-6, and 6-3 senior forward David Tufaga have the biggest impact. Senior forward Les Johnson, at 6-4, and junior guard Cheyne De La Garza round out the "Big Four," which combined for 90 percent of the Sabers' offense.
Maui likes to pound the ball inside and use height to its advantage.
The Sabers went 4-6 in the preseason before things finally started to click. Since then, Maui has won 18 of the past 20 games, including two wins over Baldwin last week to win the MIL.
Maui finished fourth in states two years ago under Naylor, who is in his fifth year.
Honokaa (13-0)Big Island Interscholastic Federation champion, No. 3 seed, no championships, coach Cheyenne Meyer:
The Dragons are on a major roll, winning 19 games in a row. Their last loss was in the preseason to Kalaheo, after taking a lead into halftime.
Four of the five starters are seniors, including 6-3 forward Edward Aldridge, guards Austin Souza and Derek Gabriel and 6-5 center Kaneale Aiona.
The Dragons have four or five players who can score and play 10 deep.
Kahuku (9-5)OIA fourth place, no championships, coach Nathan James:
Three of the Red Raiders' four seniors play huge roles -- center Micah Casey, guard Phillip Alisa and Aaron Francisco.
Casey, at 6-6, has struggled at times with foul trouble. Francisco, who is a fourth-year player, does the intangibles -- making the extra pass and hustling for loose balls. He also usually guards the top offensive player.
Alisa was one the OIA's top shooters from the perimeter and has improved since last year.
Kapaa (6-3)Kauai Interscholastic Federation champion, no championships, coach Michael Ban:
The Warriors return to the tournament for the second time in three years under Ban.
Senior forward Ryan Greenleaf, at 6-1, and 6-5 center Kekoa Chun are the leaders. Chris Lary and Garrett Danner are the best defensive players.
The Warriors rotate point guards, use a balanced scoring attack and play 10 deep.
Leilehua (11-1)OIA third place, one championship (1973), coach Keith Spencer:
The Mules are making their first tournament appearance since 1988.
Leilehua tries to set the tempo with a full-court press.
The Mules don't have a lot of size -- the tallest player is 6-2 -- but have performed well against teams with big men.
Leilehua beat Maui in the preseason and lost to Iolani and Radford.
Mililani (10-3)OIA second place, no championships, coach Michael Coito:
The Trojans -- peaking at the right time -- knocked off previously unbeaten Leilehua and stayed with Kalaheo into the fourth quarter in the OIA Tournament.
Seniors William Broadus and Hoku Patoc, both at 6-2, are the team leaders. Senior Koji Price comes off the bench. Junior Trey Brown, at 6-5, provides height inside.
Junior Rashaun Broadus, who led the team in scoring, uses his quickness to penetrate, but can also shoot from the perimeter.
Punahou (10-3)ILH runner-up, eight championships (most recently in 1999), coach Alan Lum:
Punahou gets offensive production from all over -- Richard Kim nailing 3-point shots or 6-foot Lucas Love and 6-5 Dane Uperesa on the inside.
Love and David Kowen are the two senior starters.
Junior Kynan Pang isn't a huge scoring threat, but he runs the offense efficiently.
A showdown against Kalaheo looms in the second round for the Buffanblu, who have won more state titles than any other team.
St. Louis (11-4)ILH third place, six championships (most recently in 1986), coach Delbert Tengan:
Justin Harris, at 6-4, is the steadying force on the team and has been averaging close to a double-double the past two weeks.
The Rivers' duo - Frank, at 6-4, and 6-2 sophomore Jason - are both excellent athletes who play great defense and are scoring threats. Jason is more of a perimeter defender, with Frank on the inside.
Tengan is in his second year as coach. The Crusaders lost to Hilo in last year's title game.
Waiakea (10-3)BIIF runner-up, no championships, coach Jay Bartholomew:
The Warriors have four players listed at 6-4, including senior center Kealii Pomroy.
Junior guard Brandon Kawazoe runs the offense. Waiakea looks to slow the game down, get the ball inside and dominate the boards.
Junior Jomo Young, at 6-1, is usually assigned to an opponent's top offensive player.
Waiakea beat Baldwin twice and lost to Honokaa two times.
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