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Maui Menehune League teams achieve undefeated regular seasons

By Staff | Mar 14, 2019

Lahaina Boys players include (from left): front — Noa Arnold, Ryder Lombardi, Noah Flores Alexander, Ian Cabanilla, James Williams, Tainoa Buenconsejo; back row — Kaedin Hanohano, Cash Palma, Kade Cunningham, Joa Navarro, Kanaau Castro, Everson Flores and James Heile. Tovia Galoia is not pictured.

LAHAINA – It should come as no surprise that the growing tradition of Maui Interscholastic League success for both the Lahainaluna High School boys and girls basketball teams has come as a direct result of the model middle school programs here on the West Side.

Going even further back in time, the West Maui Youth Basketball League spearheaded the hoops dreams of even younger keiki, and then Al Dasugo launched the middle school program here in Lahaina to compete with the other youth travel teams of Maui County.

Decades of success ensued, and the natural progression to the championship-caliber Luna teams – particularly the 162-game MIL winning streak and state championship by the girls, and the boys’ recent undefeated regular seasons and MIL titles. And the golden key goes back to the Maui Menehune League teams that Coach Al developed so many years ago.

Coach Al is still around, serving as an official and advisor in the WMYBL and the Menehune program. The current mentors, Luke Williams for the boys and Jason Donez for girls, mirror the dedication of Dasugo in the development of the successful teams that form the Lahainaluna rosters of the future.

Both the girls and the boys are coming off undefeated regular seasons as they headed into the Maui Menehune League Championship Tournament last weekend at the War Memorial Gymnasium in Wailuku.

The Lahaina Girls team includes (from left) Margie Ruiz Sana, Lola Donez, Ame Taufa, Taimane Faleafine Auwae, Mata Faleta, Gabi Fernandez, Trinity Pele and Thailynn Toombs.

Williams is assisted by Jonathan Krall with the Lahaina Boys. They lead a deep roster that includes Noa Arnold, Ryder Lombardi, Noah Flores Alexander, Ian Cabanilla, James Williams, Tainoa Buenconsejo, Kaedin Hanohano, Cash Palma, Kade Cunningham, Joa Navarro, Kanaau Castro, Emerson Flores, James Heile and Tovia Galoia.

“We’re not that physically imposing, but with our defensive effort we wear our opponents down. We try to be aggressive and smart with the ball, and play high-energy, full-court pressure defense the whole game,” explained Coach Luke last week. “Our strength is our family bond of being close on and off the court. “

“Thanks to the parents, the kids practice with good attitudes, work hard and accept every challenge as an opportunity to get better. This dedication is instilled at home and reflects how they are taught to be good kids at home.”

The Lahaina Girls team is not as deep as the boys’ roster, but the intensity and dedication are definitely on par. Coach Jason, assisted by trusty assistant Iolani Kaniho, lists only eight student-athletes on his lineup card for the 2019 season.

His Lahaina team also rang up an undefeated regular season moving into the MMBL championship tournament as the top seed. The roster was made up of Margie Ruiz Sana, Ame Taufa, Mata Faleta, Gabi Fernandez, Thailynn Toombs, Lola Donez, Taimane Faleafine Auwae and Trinity Pele.

Coach Jason reiterated the philosophy of the program reflects that of the Lady Lunas’ up the hill on the WestSide.

“We practice like the Lady Lunas, and we work hard on our conditioning. We are defensive-minded and play full-court pressure for the whole game. We like to play motion offense, but the game is evolving, teams are adjusting and it’s becoming more of a half-court game.”

“Of course, we get big support from the parents and also the West Maui County Parks and Recreation staff led by Sean Gordon, Yolanda Dukes, Al Dasugo and Steve Ashfield. And special thanks to Lady Lunas coach Todd Rickard, Cheyne De La Garza, Maiki Viela, Mike Hooper, Ian Aotaki and Jade Chihara for their constant support of the team.”