Four basketball all-stars set the bar at Lahainaluna High School
LAHAINA — The hoop dreams of several Lahaina girls are coming true.
College recognition, national exposure, future European professional possibilities, state title games, Maui Interscholastic League championships and all-star recognition are all coming into real time focus for Lahaina girls Kelci Fushikoshi, Rachael Rickard, Milika Taufa and Maiki Viela.
These four have been instrumental in helping the Lahainaluna High School girls basketball team to FIVE consecutive MIL championships and five straight state tournament appearances, including a third place finish this year.
The Lady Lunas rang up a 23-2 overall record for the 2009 campaign, with their only losses coming to eventual state champ Konawaena in a preseason contest and to Punahou, the state runner-up, in the state semifinals.
It was Fushikoshi who ran the point for coach Todd Rickard in Lahainaluna’s breakthrough championship run in 2005 that began the program’s five-year MIL supremacy.
Kelci then went to a standout career at Division III Menlo in California, where she became an academic and all conference all-star, highlighted by a 22.1 scoring average in her recently completed senior season there. She is currently back home in Lahaina enjoying some relaxing time before making a decision about professional basketball in Europe or Australia.
“To me, Kelci was the igniter of our program here at Lahainaluna,” said Coach Rickard. “She represents the work ethic that is the backbone of what the program is today and of that first championship team. She balanced two sports (Fushikoshi was also an all-star shortstop for the Lady Lunas softball team) at a high level, and yet she still asked to practice more in her desire to get better, to succeed. She was the captain of our team and a true leader. You couldn’t ask for a better person.”
Coach Todd’s daughter, Rachael, falls into a similar category after helping the Lady Lunas to four straight MIL titles and the third place trophy at the state tournament this year, as well as being voted MIL Player of the Year.
Rachael plans to attend Western Oregon University this fall and try out for the D-II team. Like Fushikoshi, Rachael was a leader and catalyst for the team and for her coach.
“Rachael was an example of toughness that kept everything together for us,” he explained. “She has a great competitive attitude that kept her — and the team — determined to succeed. We saw this in her.”
According to Coach Todd, Taufa and Viela are two very special players — the kind of athletes that come around only so often. Both were selected to Hawaii’s Team Aloha that participated in an elite tournament in Arizona last month and recently traveled to Oregon for another tournament with college scouts in attendance.
Taufa will be a senior this fall in search of a fourth MIL title and a higher finish at states to go along with the three all-MIL certificates and two Player of the Year trophies on her mantel at home.
“Milika really only started playing serious basketball after the sixth grade. She was really unsure of what she wanted to do, but with great parental support, she has learned the game and become probably the best big girl player I have ever seen. She runs the floor, shoots well, dribbles, passes, rebounds and blocks shots. She constantly pushes herself to get better, and she has a great attitude both on and off the court. Several D-I schools have showed interest in her,” Coach Todd said.
He describes Viela, who just completed her freshman season at the point guard position for the Lady Lunas, as another once-in-a-generation player.
“Maiki is definitely a special player who began development at a very young age and now is a multidimensional player. She is an outstanding ball handler and shooter. She is also a hard worker with a terrific attitude that has great parental support,” he explained.
Coach Rickard praised all four for their commitment in establishing the pathway to success for Lahainaluna basketball.
“All four of these girls set the bar for all the other girls coming up into the program. They realized the price needed to pay to play at this high standard. They put in the time,” he concluded.