Dominant Lady Luna hoops team celebrates ‘Senior Night’
LAHAINA – Three of the outstanding girls basketball players in the history of Lahainaluna High School celebrated “Senior Night” last Saturday evening before a packed hometown crowd at the sparkling Lahaina Civic Center.
Keleah-Aiko Koloi, Fa-Ko Fiemea Hafoka and Cameron Fernandez, as well as returning senior Andilyn Alavazo, were honored in the tradition that so exemplifies the aloha of the West Side community to Luna student athletes.
The outcome of the 11-time defending Maui Interscholastic League champion Lady Lunas’ final home game versus the Maui High Sabers was a foregone conclusion, as Lahainaluna rolled to their 118th consecutive MIL victory – a standard that will probably never be surpassed in any sport – but the festivities to recognize these four seniors manifests the sincere affection of our village of Lahaina to nurture the pathway to success for them.
Banners, posters and decorations adorned the bleachers and walls of the gleaming LCC, home of the Maui Jim Maui Invitational Basketball Tournament, college hoops’ premiere preseason event.
Family and friends showered the four seniors with lei and bouquets, followed by heartwarming hugs and kisses in expressions of love and admiration.
It is a soulful experience that brings forth the deep emotions that bind our community and build strength for the generations to follow.
“I’ve learned so much from playing basketball at Lahainaluna – a lot more than just basketball,” said Hafoka, last season’s MIL Player of the Year, who is headed to Division I San Jose State on a full scholarship.
“Coach Todd (Rickard) taught us so much. The program has given us the life lessons of discipline, effort, dedication and commitment on and off the court and especially in the classroom. I feel so much for our coaches, and I know that Coach Todd will always be there for us in later life – he is such a great person who really cares about us. And my mom and dad have been everything for me. I am where I am because of them, and none of this would be possible without them.”
Fernandez, headed for D-I Washington State University on a full ride and the MIL Player of the Year three years ago, echoed those sentiments.
“The main things I learned were dedication and commitment – that nothing comes easy, even that the top. I love Coach Todd like a second dad. I want to win it for him so bad. He is an amazing man, and I have learned so much from him. I owe so much to my parents as well; they have worked so hard to get me to this point in my life.”
Koloi, the tower in the post of the Lady Lunas’ “Big Three” over the last four years and headed for Dixie State, the University of Alaska Anchorage, Concordia University, or Grand Canyon University on scholarship, added that, “The main thing I learned was the dedication to the effort – that nothing worth winning comes easy. Since the sixth grade, Coach Todd has taught me to push myself to be an effective post player. My parents sacrifice so much for me and my sister. No matter what, they have supported us, and I can’t thank them enough.”
Alavazo will stay on Maui and attend the University of Hawaii Maui College in the fall. “This has been really exciting, and I’ll always have good memories of Lahainaluna. I learned a lot about teamwork and communication, and I know I will use these skills in the future,” she said.
For Coach Todd, it has been a memorable run with these student athletes – one that will impact generations to come.
“Sometimes everything lines up, and special things happen. These are three fantastic players, and regardless of what happens (in the state tournament, where the Lady Lunas have been in the finals two of the last four years)… they are amazing, and the precedent they set on and off the court will strengthen the program for years to come. We are so proud of them,” he concluded.