Lady Lunas’ character shined during heartbreaking loss
The Lahainaluna High School girls basketball team’s run to a second Hawaii High School Athletic Association state championship came to a heartbreaking end last Thursday night, as the Maryknoll Spartans defeated the Lady Lunas 63-61 in a semifinal match-up of the Maui Interscholastic League and Interscholastic League of Honolulu champions.
The outcome of the back-and-forth contest was not decided until the Spartans scored at the final buzzer. Maryknoll led by 12 at the half, but the Lady Lunas put on a spirited and furious comeback to take an eight-point lead into the final quarter. The lead seesawed throughout the final minutes until Maryknoll ran out the clock and scored as time elapsed to end the Lady Lunas’ run for the gold.
But although the Lahainaluna run for the state title came up short, the integrity and spirit of this program guided by coaches Todd Rickard, Ian Aotaki, Derrick Akamine and Michael Hooper will carry on as a beacon of light for all interscholastic athletic programs to follow.
Throughout the OC16 television telecast, the commentators of the contest repeatedly referenced the intensity and, moreover, the sportsmanship displayed by the Lady Lunas.
It is no secret across Maui and throughout the state that the Lady Lunas will come at you with everything they’ve got for every second of every game. The sportscasters on the broadcast repeatedly praised the Lahainaluna players and coaches for their determination and work ethic to become a championship program.
Even more important than this, the commentators also made a point of recognizing the sportsmanship of the Lady Luna players, coaches and fans. “Look at that. The Lahainaluna players are helping their opponents up off the floor, apologizing if they get hurt, praising the referees,” said one of the broadcasters.
So, through their energetic style of play and highly regarded sportsmanship, the Lady Luna basketball program has forged a sense of respect throughout the state. They have manifested a spirit that transcends wins and championships.
This Lahainaluna “process” has attained an even higher accreditation. The TV commentators also recognized several standout Lady Luna players that have parlayed their success within the program into college educations worth hundreds of thousands of dollars – priceless, really.
Aina Kohler, Rachel Rickard, Milika Taufa, Maiki Viela and Jade Chihara are among several student-athletes that benefited from their experience at Lahainaluna High School, and current seniors Cameron Fernandez, Fiemea Hafoka and Keleah-Aiko Koloi all have accepted scholarship offers to attend college and continue their playing careers.
And it is our island community and the world at large that benefit from the global rise in more educated, more respectful members of society.
Imua Luna Wahine!