Menehune League basketball coaches prepare athletes to play at Lahainaluna
LAHAINA – Thanks to community mentors at every level, the hoop dreams of West Side kids continue to grow into the reality of playing basketball at Lahainaluna High School and beyond.
From the teddy bear Termite Division in preschool age groups on up to donning the bright red Luna uniforms and competing for one of the top programs in Hawaii, the kids of Lahaina are blessed with a most dedicated corps of youth leaders in their endeavors on the court.
Taking over for Lahaina Civic Center legend Al Dasugo, who for decades guided the Menehune League basketball program here on the West Side and continues as an official at several levels, Iolani Kaniho – who played for Coach Al and at Lahainaluna – is the “give back” guy now leading the Lahaina Boys team.
Coach Kaniho is assisted by another standout contributor to community youth programs in Leilani’s on the Beach General Manager Jason Donez. With this dynamic duo leading the way, the basketball fortunes of the future are indeed on solid hardwood.
The Lahaina Boys in 2016 include returning eighth-graders Tanner Johnson and Juztin Gaorian, and seventh-graders Trey Rickard, Kalai Storer, TJ Galoia and Joaquin Donez. First-year players include Malino Jacinto, Ka’ike Dizon, Tui Lai, Kamaka Ko, Dylan Arakawa, Leroy Taukeiaho and Treven Tihada.
The team finished in the middle of the Menehune League pack last season and looks to move up the ladder in 2016. According to Coach K, the Lahaina Boys will mirror the Lahainaluna team as much as possible while trying to teach the basic principles of the game.
“We want to teach the ‘how’ rather than the ‘what’ while emphasizing teamwork and core leadership,” he said last week from the sparkling floor of the LCC.
“There is plenty of talent on this team, and we’re trying to bring consistency to their play,” he continued. “They’re working hard in the summer programs with trips to Oahu, Kauai and to Reno on the Mainland through the support of Westside Hoops and Dan Williams. Al Dasugo built a foundation for this team that set the tone for 30 years and more, and we know what’s expected of us today. We respect the community support – including all the Parks and Recreation people like Sean (Gordon) and Lahainaluna Coach Jason Justus – and take pride in what we represent as we strive to be good people on and off the court.”
On the other side of the court, the Lahaina Girls team follows a similar track. Led by coach/mentor Derrick Akamine, the team finished the 2015 season in second place and looks to challenge for the top spot once again with a small roster of eight players that includes but one eighth-grader.
Coach Derrick is assisted by Lady Lunas veteran leaders Todd Rickard and Ian Aotaki, and this trio is striving to develop the young team into a cohesive unit with leadership coming from the second-year seventh-graders.
“With this small roster, we struggle to keep up with the teams with more players, but we hang with the best. We try to do all the same things that the high school team does – all the same systems, same conditioning, everything. Of course it’s a big help and advantage to have Coach Todd and Coach Ian to support the effort, and, as always the community support is tremendous,” Akamine added.
Returning players for the Lahaina Girls are Teani Buenconsejo, Taioalo Wolf, Shaelia Pascua, Ashley Akamine and Abigal Akamine. The remainder of the roster is made up of Kalo Pasikala, Shanel Mangaoang and Kira Kaniho.
Both the Lahaina Boys and Lahaina Girls will play through the month of February, leading to the Menehune League Championship Tournament that will be held in early March.