LAHAINA — With the dedicated, homegrown leadership firmly in place, the strength and solidarity of the Lahainaluna High School girls basketball program continues in the face of the dark and ever-present cloud of the COVID-19 pandemic.
With a lifetime of hoops experience — both as a player and coach — in the West Side community, Iolani Kaniho steps up as the mentor of the reigning Maui Interscholastic League champion Lady Lunas for the much-anticipated 2021-22 campaign.
He has been involved in youth basketball at all levels for over two decades spanning his stints in the West Maui Youth Basketball League, the Lahaina Menehune League and now with Lahainaluna.
Coach Kaniho’s top assistant is longtime Lady Luna Head Coach Todd Rickard, who takes a step back, but definitely not out, in guiding the program.
With the 2010 Hawaii High School Athletic Association state championship trophy gleaming in the trophy case at the Jimmie H. Greig Gymnasium on campus, Coach Todd’s sterling leadership of the team throughout the years will be an invaluable asset.
With no junior varsity teams for the Maui Interscholastic League, the Lady Lunas’ JV coaches, Kai Pahukoa and Kayjun Pahukoa, will move up to assist with the varsity to form a highly experienced coaching staff.
Seniors Taylor Eldredge, Kiera Kaniho and Kalea Asuela, as well as junior Ledjan Pahukoa, form an outstanding leadership core for the Lahainaluna team. This highly experienced all-star foursome will definitely be counted on to keep the torch burning here on the West Side.
Joining them on the nine-player roster will be transfer Tavina Harris, a 6’1″ sophomore center, juniors Chaland Pahukoa and Mary Pahukoa, sophomore transfer Skylyn Fagarang-Alalem, and first-year player Juseana Rae Delatori.
“We are an experienced team, and we shoot the ball well, but we still have a way to go to establish chemistry and get used to playing together as a team,” Coach Kaniho explained last week before practice. “We need to get all the little things together — like rotations on defense and taking care of the ball. Our main goal is to improve every day, as we know we have the tools to be successful.”
“We’ll see how far we can go, as it has been a challenge to get the girls out due to COVID, which has limited us to a nine-player roster when it should be 15. We lost a lot of key players due to the pandemic; thank goodness for the travel team and the valuable experience of playing during the summer on the Mainland,” he continued.
“We’re confident in the team we have; we just need to learn to play together, and I think we’ll be all right. Many thanks to the best assistant around (Coach Todd), to Athletic Director Jon Conrad and to the Lahaina community for their continuing support,” Coach Kaniho concluded.
As there will be no game tickets sold by cash onsite, tickets may be purchased at GOFAN.CO. Search for Lahainaluna games for the week to buy tickets. It is noted that other schools may do this as well.
The Lahainaluna Athletic Department advises all interested to go to GOFAN.CO to see what games are available.