FOULS. Travels. Turnovers. Burning lungs. Before last night's game with Kalaheo, on the OIA's grand re-opening night, Kaiser High girls basketball coach Lisa Mann had a talk with her team.
Return of girls
"It's going to be a blur," she said. "Get ready for it."
Falling over. Stumbling.
Diving on the floor.
The ball bouncing here, there, off everyone.
(They don't press in, pick up ball!)
Stealing the ball. And throwing it away.
A spectacular layup.
A perfect pass!
Stretching hard between quarters.
Because you can't simulate game speed.
"Brooke! Bounce pass ... "
All those plans, that the coaches had planned. And drilled and practiced. And practiced and drilled.
What were they again?
What a spin move, with a ponytail flashing through the air.
Brandy steals one, and crashes through two players (one of them her own) for the ball on her way to a coast-to-coast bucket. And you can see it, as the bodies collide, and she's realized she's going to get that ball.
Right there, you almost missed it.
A little hint of a smile.
(Yeah, I was practicing that in the driveway for three weeks.)
And more travels.
And more turnovers.
And a no look pass that goes into the bleachers.
A nice move!
And a foul!
Crashing to the floor!
But the ball is still bouncing. And it's good!
And then a tough rebound.
And a nice touch pass.
The last player off the bench fires and drills one.
Seeing someone up ahead and making that pass.
Between the double-dribbles.
Diving and sliding and the squeak of skin being burned off by polished wood.
And proving once again that competition isn't about the final score.
It's about the 1,000 little battles that happen each game.
And wanting to win each one of them.
"I thought it was a good experience," Mann, a former University of Hawaii player, said after the game. "It's a real kick in the butt for us to get us going.
"It's tough," she said. "It's tough getting in playing shape.
"And you need to be in shape when you play a team like this."
Kalaheo coach Chico Furtado watched the game from the bleachers. He didn't want his team to catch the sickness that had hammered him early in the week.
It was good to get playing again, he said.
The OIA season was back in earnest, part of the return of public school play.
Back with intensity.
Back at a venue near you.
Last night's game between Kaiser and mighty Kalaheo wasn't pretty. (Kalaheo won, 63-31.)
But Lord, it was great.
Kalani Simpson's column runs Sundays, Tuesdays and Fridays.
He can be reached at email@example.com