Talented Lady Lunas know what it takes to win
LAHAINA — Lahainaluna High School basketball program director Todd Rickard is a man who sees the big picture of the pathway to success in interscholastic athletics.
It would be convenient for him to take the credit for the Lady Lunas’ basketball success in his 15 years at the helm — including five straight Maui Interscholastic League championships and a third place finish at the state tournament last season — but Rickard is blessed with what we will call the “Lahaina vision” that shifts credit for success from the individual to the community.
“In the West Maui Youth Basketball League, we have a development program that gives the kids a good start in learning the game,” explained Coach Todd.
“Don Rosenthal does a great job of running that league and introducing hundreds of kids to basketball every year. Then Mike Bates takes over for the intermediate age kids in the Menehune League.”
So, by the time they move up to Lahainaluna as freshmen, the youth players have developed the sound basic skills of the game, which translate into quality play by the Lady Lunas.
“We’re working to bring everything under the same system so that everyone — coaches and players — from menehune on up to the varsity are on the same page, running the same things,” explained Rickard, who this year has been elevated to program director and will steer both the LHS girls and boys basketball teams.
“We’re looking to get everyone to believe in this one system, but also to be open-minded enough to accept and understand all perspectives. It’s all starting to work out.”
Indeed, with those five straight MIL titles and the third place trophy from the 2009 state tournament, Lady Lunas basketball is working out.
“These girls know what it takes to win,” said Coach Todd. “They come to the gym and work hard every day. They’ve put in the time in the off-season, and I know they are ready to go.”
With Rickard moving to the director’s position, Ian Aotaki is designated as the Lady Lunas’ coach. Both will be on the court for practice and on the sidelines at the top of the bench for games.
The tri-captains for the Lunas are seniors Milika Taufa (a two-time MIL Player of the Year and a first team All-State selection last year), Lahela Akima and Maika Cabrera.
Junior returnees are Maiki Viela (first team MIL All-Star and All-State honoree last season), Akanesi Malamala, Erica “Tita” Erickson, Melissa Francis and Hiilei Bacalso. Rounding out the roster are sophomore returnees Ana Lauese and Paige Casil.
“We are a well-rounded team that can run, play pressure defense and shoot the ball,” said Coach Rickard. “We run a motion offense with screens and plenty of movement, and we have a few set plays. On defense, we’ll play man to man with some trapping and constant pressure. I am confident that the girls are ready to go, because I know that they have put in the time.”
The Lady Lunas will begin MIL play on Dec. 17, after playing in three preseason tournaments at Konawaena, Honolulu and the Lahainaluna Invitational at the Lahaina Civic Center (LCC). All of the Lunas’ home games will be played at LCC this season. The MIL Tournament is scheduled for Feb. 7-10, followed by the state tournament in Honolulu.