LAHAINA - One of the highlights of the winter months here on the West Side has always been the West Maui Youth Basketball League All-Star Games and Awards Ceremony, and this Saturday's (March 8) event will be no exception.
Without skipping a beat, first-year WMYBL Director Sean Gordon has seamlessly guided the program for some 400 West Side kids ages 4-14 to the culmination celebration of its 30-year run at Lahaina Civic Center.
"It's been a fun run this year, and I'm so thankful to all that have helped me throughout the season. The staff here at the LCC, the volunteer referees and scorekeepers, the coaches, parents and sponsors have all made this 30th year another outstanding season," said Gordon.
Leilani's on the Beach is once again the title sponsor of the event that tips off at 9 a.m. on the shining LCC floor - the home of the EA Sports Maui Invitational Tournament - with the Tiny Mite Division contest for first- and second-graders. Next to take to the court, at 10:30 a.m., will be the Pee Wee Division all-stars from the third to fifth grade age group, followed by the Midget Division, sixth through eighth grade, elite players at high noon.
An awards ceremony recognizing the outstanding players and coaches from each division will take place at halftime of each game.
The Tiny Mite West Team will be coached by the Celtics' Lee Yap. The player roster includes Chelsea Ramos, Pa'ani Yap, Nyla Nobriga, Tainoa Buenconsejo and Kaikane Herrera Rocha representing the Celtics; Lola Donez of the Hawks; Noa Gordon, Kalaeloa Tancayo and Kaulana Tihada from the Magic; and Matai Howard, Arlo Olson and Tevainui Loft representing the Pistons. The East Team will be led by coach Andy Alavazo of the Rebels, and the players include James Williams, Legend Storer, Christopher Salem and Zachary Devane from the Blazers; Lyric Kahua representing the Bulls; Kamakana Gallon and Ka'onohi Casco of the Rainbows; and Quentin Starbuck, Sylas Jenkins, Mata Faleta, Landon Long and Brayden Alavazo from the Rebels.
In the Pee Wee Division, veteran coach Ray Lasco of the Rebels will lead the West Team that includes Kupa'a Castro representing the Bulls; Michael Crisafulli, Ekolu Mathias and Kasen Gordon from the Lakers; AJ Bianco and Nicki and Nick Liwang of the Rainbows; Gabriel Tello and Kala'i Yap representing the Rebels; and Kai Payne, Joaquin Donez and Max Mckuin of the Timberwolves. The Rockets' Kaleo Luis will lead the East Team with a roster that includes Liam Chadli representing the Blazers; Ta'ai Galoia from the Celtics; Tony Felice of the Hawks; Kala'i Storer and David Salunga representing the Knicks; Tre Rickard, Treven Tihada, Amelia Uhila and Teani Buenconsejo from the Magic; Neil Agabayani of the Pistons; and Zaeden Luis and Shawn Abut from the Rockets.
The Midget Division contest is the feature game of the day, and two WMYBL longtime coaches will lead the respective teams. For the West, Mario Balagso will guide the team roster of Trayton Mizuno and Christian Salmon representing the Hawks; Cody Henke, Bailey Honda and Christian Yabo from the Knicks; Nathaniel Muto, Jerico Oplindo, Elijah Ragudo and Akiva Bluh of the Pistons; and Jacob Ramelb, Tani Kuluhiwa Kim and Joshua McCoy representing the Timberwolves.
Ron "Kyani" Miranda will guide the East Team that is made up of Viliami Hafoka, Miki Tufuga, Myka Rodrigues Kenolio and Sione Faleta from the Celtics; Dylan Smith, Keanu Lacuesta and Shane Ramos representing the Lakers; Susi Namoa and Pakela Cabrera of the Magic; and Gunnar Locke, Zachary Salvador and James Caputo representing the Nets.
Congratulations to all the players and coaches, award winners, volunteer staff, sponsors and the West Maui Parks and Recreation staff and Gordon for an outstanding 30th year for the West Maui Youth Basketball League.