Westside Girls undefeated heading into post-season championship tournament
LAHAINA — Mike Bates is a man who fully understands his position in life. A dedicated family man, a police officer and coach of the Maui County Menehune League Westside Girls basketball team, he knows and understands the value of a unified effort toward goal achievement.
As he and his wife, Joanne, the Westside Girls team mom, raised their four children and mentored them within the West Maui Youth Basketball League for the past 15 years, they have become key fixtures in the program’s progression to the top.
That climb reached its zenith last year, as the Lahainaluna High School girls team won the state championship and validated the West Maui hoops program that the Bates have become such an important part of.
With the Lady Lunas’ seventh consecutive Maui Interscholastic League championship this year, coupled with a fourth place finish at the state tournament, West Side hoops has proven to be no one night wonder as well. Lahainaluna girls basketball is on solid gold ground at the top, and the Bates factor is a major reason why.
Coach Mike makes no bones about the Menehune team’s connection to the high school program.
“Everything we do is to connect this team with the high school team,” he explained last week from the floor of the Jimmie H. Greig Gymnasium on the Lahainaluna campus. “We emulate them in everything we do, and Coach Todd (Lady Lunas head coach Todd Rickard) and his staff are always on hand to help us along.”
“We run the same pressure defense, the same attacking offense, and run, run, run, just like the high school team does,” Bates continued.
“And several of the players from the high school team come out and help us at practices. The summer club programs are interconnected as well.”
The Westside Girls team has gained notice over the last three years, as Bates has organized team trips to the state tournament each year to support the Lady Lunas.
This involvement was duly noted by Lahainaluna Athletic Director Scott Soldwisch.
“You look behind our bench, and there they are, the Westside Girls and Coach Mike giving their support to the team on the court. This is key to the Lady Lunas’ success and unique across the state,” he said.
Leading the way in a thus far undefeated season — the Westside Girls are 13-0 going into the post-season championship tournament slated for March 2-5 at the War Memorial Gymnasium — are eighth grade returnees Lindsay and Taylor Bates (the coach’s twin daughters) and classmates Mina Faaumu, Folau Hafoka, Enna Cabatin and Aloha Salem.
Rounding out the roster are seventh-graders Mele Pasikala and Kelia Koloi, along with sixth-graders Tavi Viela, Briel McKinney, Lisa Hafoka, Kalo Uhlia and Kalena Balingit.
“Our goal is to get the younger kids online with the high school program and to prepare the older ones for the transition to become a part of the high school team. It’s really all one program, all intertwined, and we just want to keep the machine rolling,” Coach Bates concluded.