Coach: MIL champion Lady Lunas a work in progress
LAHAINA – Lahainaluna High School head basketball coach Todd Rickard describes the 2019-20 Lady Lunas as a work in progress. With no returning seniors on the roster, it would be understandable to view the current team as inexperienced and vulnerable.
This is, however, Lady Lunas hoops – a program that has strung together 164 consecutive Maui Interscholastic League victories, 15 straight MIL titles and a state championship in 2010. The team finished sixth at the Hawaii High School Athletic Association tournament last season.
More important, most of the roster has risen up through the West Maui Youth Basketball League and the Lahaina Girls Menehune League program from as young as five years old, so despite the lack of seniors, most of the roster has some training in the Lahainaluna hoops pathway.
Now entering his 25th season at the helm, Coach Todd maintains the realistic profile that has characterized his run with the Lady Lunas. He will be assisted by a veteran staff of Ian Aotaki, Jason Donez, Iolani Kaniho and Erland Pahukoa in their run for another MIL championship and a deep run into the Hawaii High School Athletic Association State Tournament.
“We have got to learn how to finish games, close out games,” Coach Todd commented last week from courtside at the Jimmie H. Greig Gymnasium on campus. “But we’re not strong enough, or experienced enough, at this point.”
The Lady Lunas closed out their preseason schedule two weeks ago with several close defeats to some of the state’s top schools, including the top six, from Honolulu to Kona.
To make up for the lack of size and experience, the Lady Lunas will rely on an up-tempo strategy to press and play fast at all times.
“We must play fast at all times at both ends of the court with a quick transition game based on speed and conditioning,” Rickard said. “We cannot play a half-court game, and we must learn to play as a team.”
To this end, Coach Todd will look to his returning junior foursome of team captain Abby Akamine, Ashley Akamine, Alea Kimokea and Aira Baguyo for leadership and stability.
Also returning are sophomores Kiera Kaniho, Taylor Eldredge, Piper Pascual, Paia Asuela, transfer player KB Brucelas.
Rounding out the roster are first-year players Ame Taufa, Chaland Pahukoa, Haley Hahoe and Margie Sana. Team managers are Lola Donez and Mata Faleta.
“We will rely heavily on our seven returning players, and this team will go as far as they can take us. This a young team, and we need the leadership of the returnees to lead the players to play as a team. Everybody has to do their job for the team to succeed,” he said.
“We send our appreciation out to all the parents and the Lahaina community that is always there to support us. Thanks also to the school administration and especially to Athletic Director Scott Soldwisch for their support. The effort they put out really makes a difference for the team,” Coach Todd concluded.
The MIL regular season runs through mid-January and will be followed by the league playoffs and then the HHSAA State Championships on Feb. 3-6, at the Neil Blaisdell Arena in Honolulu.