Kalaheo senior David Moore, a 6-foot guard/forward who is a key returner for the Mustangs, scored 25 points in a victory over Kailua last week.

OIA East title
up for grabs

Tomorrow: OIA West

After all these years of being titletown, there seems to be no wind in the sails of Kalaheo basketball.

Sure, Kalaheo shocked the Oahu Interscholastic Association two years ago when Pete Smith worked from scratch, turning an underdog lineup into the league champion.

Last year, Chico Furtado took the helm, and with a mature Sam Wilhoite at center, the Mustangs were relatively unchallenged en route to another OIA crown.

This year, there is hardly a soul willing to count on Kalaheo for another title. With just two returnees, it is very possible that the Mustangs are finally on the outside looking in when the OIA season tips off today.

Kalaheo went 5-8 in nonconference play with one of the most inexperienced rosters in the league. The Mustangs lost a couple of close games to sixth-ranked Kamehameha, but it has been a trying time for Kalaheo faithful.

For the rest of OIA, there are few tears of sympathy. If anything, there are at least a few teams ready to ascend up the food chain.

In the OIA East, Kahuku has an unusual combination of early turnouts and basketball-first athletes. Nathan James would have scheduled more than seven preseason games if he'd known his football players would have finished their season early. Still, the Red Raiders have shown great potential, going 6-1.

Here's a look at this season's OIA East teams.

Castle Knights

Coach: Rocky Fraticelli
Key returnee: Louis Mansanas Jr., G, 5-7, Sr.
On paper: The Knights looked formidable in early December, winning one game by 40 points. Fraticelli has a number of starters and reserves he can turn to.
The skinny: This could be Fraticelli's best team since the squad that went 9-0 in regular-season play a few years ago. Depth and athleticism are plusses. Last year's team was scrappy, but prone to turnovers. Fraticelli's disciplined system could be a big plus for this team of athletes.
X factor: One of the quickest teams in the East, the Knights will go far if they keep turnovers under check.

Farrington Governors

Coach: Allan Silva
Key returnees: Truong Nguyen, F, 5-11, Sr.; N.C. Dela Cruz, G, 5-5, Sr.; Karl Olson, C, 6-3, Sr.
On paper: First-year Govs coach Allan Silva has a roster dominated by juniors. Early on, he platooned liberally and let his players run and gun. That's changed in recent games, and the Govs are playing more patiently.
The skinny: The Govs are in search of an identity, but Silva has them on the right track in terms of effort and hustle. Nguyen, Nathan Serdenia, Micah Kalingo and John Carlos have made nice contributions in preseason games.
X factor: With so many first-year varsity players, it may take a while more for the Govs to find consistency and chemistry.

Kahuku Rers

Coach: Nathan James
Key returnees: Okosene Ale Jr., G/F, 6-1, Jr.; Clinton Parks, G, 5-10, Jr.
On paper: Unlike recent Kahuku squads, this one can go "small" to get better ballhandling and transition. Ale is a commodity, able to crash the boards and/or run the point. When Parks is at the point, Ale and newcomer Devin Unga are very effective attacking the basket.
The skinny: Shane Hayden, a transfer, has stepped up his scoring in the past week. His ability to stretch a defense will help Ale and Unga avoid congestion in the paint. Parks is effective as a penetrator, too, but when defenses go zone, he'll be a key factor from long range.
X factor: When the Red Raiders go to the bench, they have plenty of size.
Viliami Tilini provides size and a good basketball IQ. His play, as well as that of the other post players, will be key as Kahuku battles the OIA's top teams.

Kailua Surfriders

Coach: Tim Harrison
Key returnees: Tyler Harrison, G, 5-11, Sr.; Justin Pedro, F, 6-3, Sr.; Kainoa LaCount, C, 6-7, Sr.
On paper: This is one of the better Surfrider squads in recent memory. Harrison is strong defensively. Pedro is long, lanky and aggressive. LaCount has nice agility around the basket and has few peers. He is easily one of the top centers in the state.
The skinny: Kailua had some struggles against on-ball pressure defenses during preseason tournaments. Dealing with double teams is a key issue, especially when some of Kailua's guards have a habit of dribbling with their heads down, unable to find open teammates. When they improve in this area, the Surfriders will be extremely difficult to stop because of LaCount and Pedro under the glass.
X factor: Good outside shooting may be a luxury, but if they can get some soon, the Surfriders could go very far.

Kaimuki Bulldogs

Coach: Kelly Grant
Key returnees: Isaiah Ano, G/F, 6-1, Sr.; Jon Torres, F/C, 6-2, Sr.; Kekoa Onaga, G, 5-7, Sr.
On paper: The Bulldogs went to Punahou in early December, hung tough for a half (21-20) and eventually ran into problems. That was expected because the 'Dogs were still learning a new system under first-year head coach Kelly Grant. The former Maryknoll and HPU guard has some talent to work with, but it could be a while before the Bulldogs are in synch.
The skinny: Grant, a sharpshooter in his playing days, may well be the best shooter Kaimuki has. Ano is a lanky ballhandler who excels defensively. Torres gives Kaimuki a smart, strong post player. But there is a lack of perimeter shooting.
X factor: If the Bulldogs play patiently, they'll compete with any team in the OIA. A lack of patience, i.e. poor shot selection, will hurt the 'Dogs.

Kaiser Cougars

Coach: Brian Almadova
Key returnees: Steven Pratt, F, 6-0, Sr.; Matt Ching, F, 6-1, Sr.; Jeff Peters, F, 6-0, Sr.
On paper: The Cougars have more height than usual, but recent ankle injuries to Pratt and Ching are a factor.
The skinny: Without Pratt and Ching, the Cougars struggled during last week's Punahou Holiday Classic. When Ching returned, still hobbling, they were competitive with then-ninth ranked Radford.
X factor: The addition of Adam Aila, a 6-1 junior, is a boost.

Kalaheo Mustangs

Coach: Chico Furtado
Key returnees: David Moore, G/F, 6-0, Sr.; Chris Tumaneng, PG, 5-9, Jr.
On paper: With just two returnees who saw extensive action -- neither a prominent scorer last year -- the Mustangs have a lot of work to do.
The skinny: The good aspect of having 13 new players is that Furtado can mold them like clay. The tough part, though, is getting the parts to function as one machine. The hustle and effort are there, but offensive production is sporadic. Moore scored 25 in a win over Kailua last week, but that isn't a common occurrence.
X factor: Sophomore Tate Brown, a 6-1 forward, has provided some spark offensively. Tyler Caswell, a 6-4 sophomore, is also showing potential.

Kalani Falcons

Coach: Ned Uemae
Key returnees: Dustin Umeda, G, 5-7, Sr.; Carlson Chun, G, 5-8, Sr.
On paper: The Falcons aren't tall, but they have some offensive firepower thanks to Umeda and Chun.
The skinny: Controlling the tempo and shooting well are keys for the Falcons. They're a scrappy team, but don't have dominant rebounding. That makes it imperative for them to keep turnovers down.
X factor: Most teams will zero in on Umeda, a streaky shooter who can fill a scorebook if left unchecked.

McKinley Tigers

Coach: Bob Morikuni
Key returnee: Kapena Quisano, G, 5-8, Sr.
On paper: The Tigers lost nearly the entire house with the graduation to key seniors, including Abel Werner and Robert Holder.
The skinny: They were small last year, and they're small again. The difference is that this year's group is inexperienced.
X factor: Quisano has been a consistent scorer through the preseason, but the Tigers need to play near-flawless basketball to stay in most games. Morikuni has extracted wins out of smallish lineups before. Can he do it again?

Moanalua Menehunes

Coach: Dan Hale
Key returnee: Zachary Pendergast, F, 6-0, Sr.
On paper: First-year head coach Hale brings in a new look. The Menehunes were relatively competitive in preseason.
The skinny: Moanalua is finding its identity. Wayne West, a 6-1 junior, has emerged as a perimeter shooter.
X factor: Like several other OIA teams, Moanalua has adequate height and good potential without a lot of scoring. Hale, a former forward at Hawaii, knows how to make post players more of a focal point in an offense. Time will tell whether the Menes become more of an inside team.

Roosevelt Rough Riders

Coach: John Chung
Key returnees: Micah Dutro, G, 5-7, Sr.; Danton Balbas, G/F, 6-2, Sr.
On paper: The Rough Riders have one of the most capable, experienced staffs in the league with Chung, Mike Among and Bobby Keanini. Meshing together a group of returnees, JV products and newcomers is right up their alley.
The skinny: The arrival of Saint Louis transfer Kerstan Ho solidifies a lineup that already includes versatile Balbas. Ho, a 6-3 junior, is an adequate ballhandler against pressure and can bang inside with centers.
X factor: The Rough Riders are among the most balanced teams in the league, but would benefit from better perimeter shooting. Then again, what team wouldn't?

Thompson Sharks

Coach: Kaipo Patoc
Key returnees: Josh Musick, F, 5-11, Sr.
On paper: Former coach Andrew Aki is now Thompson Academy's athletic director. He hands over the keys to Patoc, who is only 20. Patoc is a former standout football and basketball player from Mililani who was mentored by one of the top coaches in the islands, Mike Coito.
The skinny: Musick is the lone returnee from last year's first-ever Shark hoops team, which got an A for effort in a winless season. "Our defense is what I'm concerned about. We don't have a lot of depth," said Patoc, who went into the season not knowing who would be on the squad. "I just wanted to help out Andrew."
This year's team is significantly better talent-wise. Mose Atuatasi, a 6-5 senior, is a transfer from Kapolei. Jerome Figueroa, a 6-4 junior, transferred from Campbell. John Keen, a 6-3 freshman, is originally from Hawaii. His family returned from the mainland recently, where he was a home-schooler.
X factor: The Sharks practice at Kawaihao Gym and at a nearby playground, sometimes against Patoc's former teammates: Trey Brown, William Broadus and Rashaun Broadus. Whether they can gel enough to compete as a team is a big challenge for the first-year head coach.

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