Lahaina Menehune League teams prepare for post-season tourneys
LAHAINA – Roll on Red Tide, roll on. No, we’re not talking about Alabama Crimson Tide football. We’re standing tall for West Side hoop dreams!
After a sterling season for the Lahainaluna High School basketball teams – the Lady Lunas extended their Maui Interscholastic League all sports winning streak to 106, won their 11th straight league title and brought home the runner-up trophy from the state championship tournament for the second consecutive year, and the Luna boys took an undefeated regular season title into the playoffs last week – the future of both of these programs is being solidified in the efforts of the Lahaina Maui Menehune League teams.
The Lahaina Girls Menehune League team, the defending champ, will enter next week’s championship tournament as the second seed to top-ranked Kahului. Lahaina split the two regular season contests with the Sparks and, by virtue of the winning margin in those match-ups, the top seed in the playoffs goes to Kahului.
The tournament will be played March 4-6 at War Memorial Gymnasium in Wailuku.
The Lahaina Girls are coached by Derrick Akamine with Lady Luna leaders Todd Rickard and Ian Aotaki backing him up. The young team, made up of primarily sixth-graders, is led by seasoned starters Susie Naomi, Sanne Hafoka and Teani Rickard.
The roster also includes Ashley Akamine, Abigail Akamine, Tiani Buenconsejo, Shaelia Pascua, Taioalo Wolf and Ihi Garcia – all sixth-graders who have risen up in the game in the West Maui Youth Basketball League.
Similarly, the Lahaina Boys team also won the league title last year and played this season with a relatively young roster. Coached by veteran youth hoops mentor Iolani Kaniho and Jason Donez, the team struggled with consistency and finished the regular season with a 7-9 record. They entered the playoff tournament as the fourth seed.
Leading the charge for the Lahaina Boys are eighth grade co-captains Ty Bates and Eki Storer, as well as classmates Niles Pokipala Waiohu, Tausini Hafoka, Christian Soloman and Miki Tufuga.
Seventh-graders on the roster are Justin Gaoiran and Tanner Johnson, and the first-year sixth-graders on the team are Ka’alai Storer, AJ Bianco, Trey Rickard, TJ Galoia, Joaquin Donez and Kai Payne.
According to coach Derrick Akamine with the girls and assistant coach Jason Donez with the boys, both teams were young but seemed to be coming together at the right time of the season.
“Our defense is usually man-to-man, but we went to a zone in our win over Kahului, so the team is picking that up well. On offense, the plays are more complicated, and the team is a little young to pick it up,” said Akamine.
For the boys’ team, Donez added, “We’re hoping to pick up the intensity, and we’re starting to play better as a team. We’re looking to get more ball movement and more efficient passing. We’re getting there.”