Hawaii Grown

Former Kalaheo star Sky Wilson has helped lead Northwest Missouri State to the NCAA Division II Elite 8.

No limits for
Kalaheo alum

Guard Sky Wilson is a key player
on a Division II Elite 8 team

He isn't really Hawaii Grown, but Sky Wilson says that the year he spent at Kalaheo High School is where "I got my got first taste of winning."

Wilson's appetite for winning, whetted when he helped lead Kalaheo to the 2001 HHSAA boys basketball championship, will take him to the NCAA Division II Elite 8 starting Wednesday in Bakersfield, Calif.

He is a junior now at Northwest Missouri State, where basketball coach Steve Tappmeyer calls him, "in a lot of ways our most valuable player."

"We graduated a three-year starter and Sky has been able to step in and handle it from Day 1," Tappmeyer said. "He's a great competitor, a smart player, what I call a chemistry player -- he didn't disrupt our chemistry -- and he plays within himself."

Wilson, who plays both guard positions, is Northwest Missouri's sharpest 3-point shooter (44.3 percent), and its most reliable free-throw shooter (83.6 percent). He is on the court more than all but one other player (30.1 minutes per game) and is the third-leading scorer (10.2 points per game). He makes 47.2 percent of his field-goal attempts and averages 3.6 assists per game.

"He's been a very big piece to the puzzle for us this year," sports information director Andy Seeley said.

Northwest Missouri State won its two South Central Regional games by a total of three points and will play Great Lakes champion Southern Indiana in the national quarterfinals Wednesday at noon in Bakersfield's 10,600-seat Centennial Garden.

It is sort of a return to his roots for the California-raised Wilson. He moved from his home in the desert town of Indio to live with his mother's brother, then-Kalaheo coach Pete Smith, for his senior year in high school "because I wanted a chance to play on a championship team."

"Uncle Pete had coached a lot of them (14 Oahu Interscholastic Association and three state champions when he retired last year). "I learned a lot that year in basketball, and matured a lot," Wilson said.

He and D.C. Daniels led Kalaheo to a 68-60 victory over Iolani in the 2001 state championship game -- the last league or HHSAA game that Iolani lost in the Derrick Low era.

Wilson returned to the desert for two successful years at Scottsdale (Ariz.) junior college before he accepted a scholarship at Northwest Missouri State.

"When I came here for my visit and met the guys, I got a feeling that this would be a special team," Wilson said. "It has played out so far."

Maryville, home of Northwest Missouri State, "is a small town, very sports-minded," Wilson said. "I love playing in front of the people here."

He says the news that Smith suffered a heart attack and went into a coma after colon-cancer surgery last October was shocking.

"It was hard to believe at first, but I knew he would pull through," Wilson said. "I love him to death."

Smith, the coach who taught his nephew to be a winning basketball player, is recuperating at home in Kailua and winning his own most important game.

Tip-ins: Daniels, who shared Star-Bulletin Mr. Basketball honors with Wilson in 2001, has had limited playing time in two seasons at Kankakee junior college in Illinois and has not yet found a place to continue his career. He has had a series of injuries and before this season underwent surgery to remove a tumor in his back.

"Their coach said he just didn't get up to speed afterwards," says a spokesman for the Hawaii Sports Network Foundation, which found Daniels the scholarship at Kankakee.

Wrestler Lee loses twice at NCAAs, finishes in fifth

>> Cornell: Top-seeded 133-pounder Travis Lee (Saint Louis '01 of Liliha) lost two straight matches and finished in fifth place in the NCAA Division I championships in St. Louis.

Lee was upset by Zach Roberson of Iowa State in the semifinals on Friday and lost to defending national champion Johnny Thompson of Oklahoma State 10-8 in a third-place semifinal yesterday.

He recovered to defeat Foley Dowd of Michigan for fifth place. Roberson defeated Penn State's Josh Moore 7-3 for the championship.

Lee, a three-time HHSAA champion, finished with a record of 39-3. He was ranked No. 1 in all national polls for most of this year.

Lee was the unbeaten national champion at 125 pounds last season -- the first wrestler from Hawaii to win a Division I wrestling championship.

Roberson, Moore and Thompson are seniors. Lee is a junior.

>> San Francisco State: Senior Joey Bareng (Moanalua '00) was in tears after he lost the third-place match in the NCAA Division II Western Region tournament. He thought his career was over.

But Bareng was awarded a wild-card spot in the Division II national championships. He won that match and reached the semifinals of the 125-pound bracket.

"He upset the No. 1-ranked guy in double overtime to get to the semis," San Francisco State coach Lars Jensen said. "He showed the true heart of a champion."

Although he lost his semifinal on a technical fall (16-1), Bareng rebounded to take fifth place and earn All-American status.

Winning 51 matches in the past two seasons after going 19-21 his first two seasons brought Bareng within three wins of SF State's top 10 in career victories.

"Joey is right there technique-wise," Jensen said.

Jensen said Waiakea High's Mikhail Higa, HHSAA 125-pound runner-up, is headed for San Francisco State next season.

>> Dana (Neb.): Junior Brian Tsutsumi (Castle '00) earned NAIA All-American status when he finished sixth in the 133-pound division at the national tournament.

In 2003, when he won 23 matches and the NAIA Central Region championship, Tsutsumi received the Dana team's Tough Man award. Tsutsumi's brother Shawn Tsutsumi (Castle '03) also wrestled for Dana, as a 125-pounder.


>> San Diego: The NCAA Division I swimming championships that ended yesterday in College Station, Texas, did not go well for sophomore Ashley Swart (Kaiser '03).

Swart finished 63rd in the 400-meter freestyle on Thursday, 43rd in the 400 individual medley on Friday and 37th in the 200 breaststroke yesterday.

In 2003, she earned honorable mention All-America with an 11th-place finish in the 200 individual medley. Going into the NCAAs, she was ranked 30th in the medley and 35th in the breaststroke.

Despite the disappointing outcomes, San Diego coach Mike Keeler said, "Ashley is a tremendous athlete. It is an honor to be competing at such a high level, as the NCAAs are so difficult to qualify for."

Swart had won both the 200 and 400 individual medley events and finished second in the 200 breaststroke at the Pacific Collegiate Swimming Conference championships last month.


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