Crowds inspiring Lunas to dream hoops season
Those tremors you’ve been feeling coming from the Lahaina Civic Center area are not tsunami warnings. The rockin’ and rollin’ is due to the Lahainaluna High School basketball teams and their loyal fans enjoying one of the finest seasons in the long history of the oldest school west of the Rockies.
Thanks to the coaching team headed up by Todd Rickard and including Casey Brummel, Ian Aotaki, Eddie Pamat, Jeff McCabe, John Dudley, Dan Williams and Angel Badua, as well as LHS Athletic Director Scott Soldwisch, the hoops teams are on a breakout run toward perhaps their finest season ever.
The sterling play of both the girls (12-0) and boys (8-1) teams has been complemented by a change in venue for home games from the dim lit campus gym to the sparkling, bright lights show time atmosphere of the LCC, home of the Maui Invitational Basketball Tournament — far and away the top preseason collegiate event in the nation. The Lahainaluna band, drill team and cheer squad add the crowning touches to red tide spirit and atmosphere that speaks volumes to the community character here.
The move to the Civic Center came in most part as the brainchild of Westside Hoops — Lahainaluna’s booster organization — leader Williams. “We wanted to create a lively, family oriented high school basketball experience for the community. We wanted to bring on the community support for what we knew would be breakout seasons for the girls and the boys,” explained Coach Dan.
The Lahainaluna boys are the surprise of the 2009-10 season, and their success is due in part to raucous support they’ve drawn from the near-capacity crowds at LCC. Over the last two weeks, the Lunas have pulled out last minute home court wins over the Baldwin Bears and Kamehameha Maui to stretch their MIL lead to two full games.
The five-time defending MIL champion and 2009 state third place finisher Lady Lunas have swept to a perfect 12-0 regular season mark to clinch a berth in the Hawaii High School Athletic Association Tournament in Honolulu going into the MIL tournament last week. That event would determine the overall MIL champion and the seedings to the state competition.
This is where things get a little sticky. By virtue of Lahainaluna’s overtime win over Punahou in a preseason tourney, and for the entire season, the Lady Lunas had been the state’s number two-rated team by the Honolulu pollsters from the daily newspapers over there. Now, as tournament time (Feb. 16-19) draws near, those same “experts” have dropped the Lady Lunas to number three and moved Punahou up to number two. The dirty word over the coconut wireless is that the powers that be in Honolulu don’t want an all Neighbor Island final, which would be the case had top seed and defending state titlist Konawaena and Lahainaluna won according to the previous seedings to meet in the championship game.
An even dirtier rumor has those same pollsters defending their shuffle move on the fact that Lahainaluna wasn’t beating their MIL opponents by enough. An average victory margin of 25 points is not enough? Playing your entire 12-player roster — including three freshmen — for significant minutes in every game is not enough?
This action stinks with the same sort of manure that had the Lunas football team, the HHSAA’s fourth seeded Division II team, travel to Aiea to play Na Alii, a lower seed, on THEIR home field. Come on, HHSAA! Get it together for once!