LAHAINA - It is said that getting to the championship level in any sport is one thing, but that staying there is certainly another. With seven consecutive Maui Interscholastic League titles and three straight trips to the state final four - including the 2010 championship - Lahainaluna High School girls basketball coach Todd Rickard has found the way.
All coaches agree that this is no easy task, and Coach Todd will be the first one to tell you that it is a community effort that has taken Lady Luna basketball to the top.
"The youth program here in Lahaina is probably the best in the state, and the community support for our team has always been tremendous," said Rickard, himself a Lahainaluna grad now into his 18 year at the helm of a program that holds the all sport MIL consecutive win record of 63, last week from the Jimmie H. Greig Gymnasium on the Lahainaluna campus.
The team includes (from left): front — Misha Whitehead, Lindsey Bates, Mina Faaumu, Captain Ana Lauese, Captain Paige Casil, Jade Chihara, Amanda Matsuda and Taylor Bates; back row — Kyla Blando, Moana Hafoka, Loke Basques, Makana Kaaikala, Petiola Tuakoi, Folau Hafoka, Princess Lauvao, Haley Nakamura and Aloha Salem.
Perhaps most of all, however, Coach Todd cited the team's commitment to work almost year-round in their climb to the top of the mountain.
"These girls are really determined to do what it takes to be a champion. They all contribute, and they all believe they can get the job done. They take maybe three weeks off at the end of the season, but then it's back to work with off-season conditioning and practices. This is what separates these girls and this team from the rest - the commitment in the off-season to hard work. Those workouts are tough, but the girls feed off of each other to become stronger, and they all know they will contribute to the success of the team."
Coach also had high praise for the Lady Lunas' senior co-captains, Ana Lauese and Paige Casil.
"These two have really impressed me with their low-key, yet firm and strong leadership. The girls really follow their lead, and this has become a no worries team that plays for one another, they like being around each other and have great chemistry. I am very excited about this team and I know they will do well - they have great potential for success," he said.
Lahainaluna plays an up-tempo game based upon high levels of conditioning. The Lady Lunas' game is, "run, run, run," according to Rickard, who will be assisted by Mike Bates, Eddie Pamat and Ian Aotaki this season.
"If you can't do that, then this team is not for you. We always play pressure defense, and we always push the ball up the court on offense. We will always be aggressive, never conservative. We play man-to-man, trapping defense and a motion, screening offense. Basically, we are confident that no team will be in better condition than us," he explained.
"The girls have bought into our emphasis on a team philosophy - we play team defense and team offense to win. Our focus is to come together as a team and play together as a team. We have a lot of depth this year and our scrimmages have been intense."
Lauese and Casil are the only seniors on the roster with juniors Jade Chihara, Amanda Matsuda, Petiola Tuakoi, Haley Nakamura, Moana Hafoka, Makana Kaaikala and talented transfer Princess Lauvao; sophomore Loke Basques; and freshmen Taylor Bates, Lindsey Bates and Folau Hafoka forming a formidable, deep rotation for the Lahainaluna coaches to employ.
The Lady Luna junior varsity team is comprised of Misha Whitehead, Mina Faaumu, Aloha Salem and Kyla Blando.
The Lady Lunas will play three rounds of regular season contests against Division I opponents Baldwin, Maui High, King Kekaulike and Kamehameha Schools Maui, followed by the MIL post-season tournament at the end of January. The state championship playoffs are scheduled for Feb. 7-10 in Honolulu.
"Our thanks goes out to Athletic Director Scott Soldwisch, who always does what he can to help us out, and to the Lahaina community for always being there for us. Wherever we go, the Luna support is there - you just can't beat them. We will always try to give our best effort to give back to them. Wassup, Lahaina," concluded Coach Todd.