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Lady Luna basketball team even stronger this season

By Staff | Dec 17, 2015

The team includes (from left): front — Sheilaika Agabayani, Aprelene Cuaresma, Rachael Balagso, Alexia Plaza, Teani Rickard, Braeanna Estabillo, Keiko Aotaki and Tori Tihada; back row — Susitani Namoa, Lisa Hafoka, Erin Hookano, Keleah-Aiko Koloi, Cameron Fernandez, Fieme‘a Hafoka and Andilyn Alavazo

LAHAINA – It is hard to imagine that this season’s Lady Luna basketball team could be more powerful than last year’s Maui Interscholastic League champions (for the eleventh consecutive year in extending its all sport regular season winning streak to 108 games) and state finalist for the second straight campaign, but they are.

This Lahainaluna High School team returns perhaps the state’s top all-star trio in 5’10” forward Cameron Fernandez, 5’9″ point guard Fieme’a Hafoka, and 6’1″ center Keleah-Aiko Koloi, who return for their final quest for the highly revered Hawaii High School Athletic Association championship that the Lady Lunas won in 2010 to become the first Neighbor Island school to win the coveted title.

Also returning for veteran Lady Luna head coach Todd Rickard are junior forward Lisa Hafoka, as well as a bevy of lightening quick sophomore guards that come back with the invaluable experience of their first year of varsity hoops.

Moreover, the return of low post player Andilyn Alavazo for her senior year after taking the last two years off will undoubtedly strengthen Lahainaluna under the basket at both ends of the court.

That sophomore group of guards is tenacious on defense and polished on the offensive end. It includes Sheilaika Agabayani, Keiko Aotaki, Rachael Balagso, Aprelene Cuaresma, Braeanna Estabillo and Tori Tihada. Rounding out the Lahainaluna 2015-16 roster are four first-year student athletes that have gained sound fundamental foundations in the West Maui Youth Basketball Association program, including Susitani Namoa, Teani Rickard, Erin Hookano and Alexia Plaza.

“We certainly have strength in our seniors,” said Coach Todd, who begins his 23rd year at the helm of the most successful high school athletic program in the history of the MIL. “These seniors give us the leadership we need to be a champion. They provide the on-court experience that we need to get the job done in our man-to-man defense and our motion offense. It depends on who we’re playing, but most of the time we’ll use a man-to-man defense, and on offense we’ll be moving all the time. Move, cut, screen – we should be in motion at all times, and this is where the experience and leadership of our seniors makes a big difference.”

Coach Rickard is joined by his longtime, trusty sidekick Ian Aotaki as his top assistant, as well as Derrick Akamine and volunteer assistants Michael Hooper and Mark Fernandez on the Lady Lunas staff.

“We just feel very grateful to be able to be a part of this community – they are always there for us in force. Nothing beats playing for this community, and we send our mahalo out to them. In particular, we send our salute to the West Maui Youth Basketball Association and its leadership and coaches for creating such a strong program that contributes to forming a solid community base that brings success for us all.”

The Lady Lunas traveled to Honolulu last week for a holiday tournament with match-ups with some of the top teams from the Interscholastic League of Honolulu (ILH) and the Oahu Interscholastic Association (OIA). They will return to Maui for the Lahainaluna High School Invitational at the Lahaina Civic Center, which includes several teams from the Mainland and from the outer islands.

The Lady Lunas opened up the MIL season two weeks ago with a big win over King Kekaulike. League play is slated through January and February, with the state tournament scheduled for early March in Honolulu. Imua Lady Lunas!