LAHAINA - The 2012-13 Lahainaluna High School boys basketball team is a young and inexperienced group looking to climb back to the top of the Maui Interscholastic League.
Third-year head coach John Dudley is optimistic that his charges are up for the challenge.
"This is a talented group of kids that like to play basketball, and the important thing this year is that camaraderie reigns in our gym and they have a great attitude to learn and to improve," he said before last week's MIL tip-off match-up with defending champ Baldwin at the Lahaina Civic Center.
The team includes (from left): front — Marvin Sidon, Renzo Corpuz, Jake “Genki” Francis, Emil Cariaga and Josh Corpuz; back row — Brandon Agapay, Cyrus Kama, Manny Brands, Ryan Madera, Josh Chapital and Nick Vierra.
Four players return from the 7-5 squad that finished third in the final MIL standings last season. Several crossover athletes from the football team are injured, leaving Lahainaluna to start the season with a roster 11 deep.
"We'll play everybody and use full-court, pressure defense all game long," explained Coach John, who will be assisted by Bill Ciancio, Dan Williams, John Agapay and Johnnie Ibus for the 2012-13 campaign.
"We'll be man-to-man on defense and try to breakaway on offense and motion in the half-court due to our lack of size. We can shoot the ball and we have good strength and speed, so I think we'll be all right."
Leading the way for the Lunas will be senior captains Emil Cariaga, Manny Brands and Jake "Genki" Francis, and juniors Josh Corpuz and Nick Vierra. Rounding out the roster are junior Brandon Agapay and a talented group of sophomores, including Josh Capital, Renzo Corpuz, Ryan Madera, Cyrus Kama and Marvin Sidon.
"The continuity that has been established in the girls basketball program here in Lahaina has spread over into the boys program as well," explained Coach John. "The boys are all on the same page starting from the sixth grade now, and the coaches are on board with this as well. All of the coaches - the varsity, the junior varsity and the menehune staffs - all work together now to develop this continuity.
"I've learned a lot from Coach Todd (Rickard, Lady Luna head coach)... he is in many ways a mentor for me, and it has been good for me. The support from the community has been awesome as well - they are always there for the team, always ready to be positive and do what needs to get done. I doubt if there is a better support community in the state," he concluded.
Lahainaluna will play 12 league games - three each versus Baldwin, Maui High, King Kekaulike and Kamehameha Maui - with home dates on Jan. 5, 10, 18, 26 and 29. The MIL Tournament will be played Feb. 6-8, also at the Lahaina Civic Center.
The Hawaii High School Athletic Association State Tournament will take place the following week in Honolulu.