Basketball star ID’d
as shooting victim

WAILUKU » A prominent former Chaminade University basketball player has been identified as the man killed in a remote coastal area of North Maui.

Mark Wells, 44, played on the Chaminade team that defeated top-ranked Virginia, a team that was supposed to be unbeatable with 7-foot-4-inch All-American Ralph Sampson.

The Dec. 23, 1982, victory was one of the biggest upsets in American college basketball history.

Wells' body was found with multiple gunshot wounds to the head and body by a hiker Sunday near a trail at Nakalele Point, about 100 yards makai of Kahekili Highway. Maui police have not released the identity of the slain man.

However, his girlfriend confirmed it was Wells.

"His greatest accomplishment was the Chaminade game," said his girlfriend, Georgina "Gigi" Mano, yesterday. "He always talked about it."

Mano said she last saw Wells at 4:30 p.m. on Friday, when he left to do a house job for a prominent professional basketball player.

Wells had been living with a group of homeless people in a makeshift camp near former sugar cane fields in Lahaina.

Mano said Wells, who was living with her and her daughter, had bought supplies at a hardware store to use in cleaning the outside of a basketball player's house.

"He was going to do a job. I want to know what transpired," said Mano, crying. "He was a good guy. I don't know what he was into, but a lot of times, he protected us."

Mano said she knew Wells was the man who was killed because she spoke with police and was able to confirm that her ring, with a dragon design and a green stone, was on his finger.

Police Lt. Glenn Cuomo said police received the call from a hiker about finding a body a little after 1 p.m. Sunday.

He said the dead man appeared to have been dead less than 24 hours. Cuomo declined to comment on whether drugs were involved in the killing.

The 6-foot-1-inch Wells played a prominent role in Chaminade's 77-72 upset over Virginia, at a time when the Catholic college in Hawaii had an enrollment of some 800 students.

Virginia arrived in Hawaii with an 8-0 record, and it was supposed to easily vanquish an unranked Chaminade. At the time, Chaminade coach Merv Lopes said he would consider it a moral victory if his team could stay within 20 points of Virginia.

Wells played a pivotal role in the game, especially in the final 46 seconds, when he made three free throws to help his team to a 77-72 victory. On that night, Wells finished with seven points, five assists and four rebounds and shared in one of the greatest upsets in NCAA basketball history.

"Yes Virginia, there is a Chaminade," a headline blared after the huge upset.

The team gathered in November 2002 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of that victory.

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