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Basketball - Boys
By Taylor Gage
As the final seconds of the 2015 BIIF semifinals slipped away, so did one outstanding Hawaii Island Basketball team’s season. In a rematch of two local elites, the defending state champion Ka Makani of HPA looked to offset their regular season loss to the Daggers of Pahoa and move one step closer to a glorious repeat. At the end of thirty-two hard fought minutes, HPA’s long held momentum had run dry, as the Daggers emerged the victors of a slow-paced defensive slugfest by a score of 36-26.
With the end of a long run of success, everyone associated with HPA athletics was rightfully deflated. However, the team’s reaction, and the outpouring of support from the parents, peers, teammates, and coaches, left a team that remains strong regardless of the score.
In the crowd that evening was then Head of School Lindsay Barnes and a gaggle of HPA students, who made the trek across island to see their team play one final game, exemplifying the Basketball program’s impressive influence, fan base, and support within the school. The Senior leaders on the team leave a powerful legacy, with one state title already under their belt.
It is not the shortened season, but instead the spirit of Ubuntu, the team’s philosophy of selfless unity, that we will look back on in years to come. Furthermore, the students in the dorms will never forget jumping up and down, screaming, watching Hide Akai ‘15, Justas Gecas ‘15 and Nicky Palleschi ‘15 among others on television, as they battled it out for the 2014 state championship.
The class of 2015 is graced with the talents of five boys, their skill on the court and ability to work as a team unparalleled. It is their character that truly makes them stand out. In these last four years Hide Akai, Victor Lee ‘15, Colin Yates ‘15, Nicky Palleschi, and Jusatas Gecas; the Seniors of the team, worked hard to create, not only a successful team statistically, but also a family like bond that the entire student body thrives and flourishes around. Their contribution to the HPA basketball program as well as their personal achievements warrant notability and respect of the highest degree.
As a team they’ve set a precedent for exceptional performance and sportsmanship, as well as cohesion through diversity. Their all inclusive nature and kindness towards new players has pivotally shaped the team they’ve become.
On behalf of the HPA community, congratulations seniors on your entire HPA basketball career. Next year you will be missed dearly. We love you guys!
Head Coach Fred Wawner
As HPA’s dean of student life, it is Wawner’s duty to lead students—into believing in a higher ethos, into accepting personal responsibility, and learning that each individual is one member of a larger team. This is a big part HPA’s tradition, knowing what makes a good citizen, a successful HPA student.
The process works on campus, and in the gym. There is a long tradition among other Big Island schools to outlast opponents with a run-and-gun offense. Miss the shot? Not a problem if your second or third man is there to snag the rebound. With large enrollments, and deep benches, this tactic has worked in years past, eventually wearing down teams from smaller schools like HPA.
But not in the 2013-2014 season. Ka Makani defeated every other team in their division in every game of the regular season. There’s a reason for the perfect season. It’s true Ka Makani had eight seniors, including some of the tallest in the league, and stellar Waimea-born guard Kalan Camero, the “third coach” on the court. There was more to that year's championship season than individual talent, though. There was depth on the bench, during the regular season, and to fill Camero’s giant steps when he was injured in the playoffs. Always there was the team—first and foremost.
“The players believed in the process,” Wawner said.
Players routinely showed up for the optional 6:30 to 7:30 a.m. practices, doubling up practices for most of the season. “More than anything the players showed their willingness to blend, to be a team,” Wawner said. “We’ve practiced long and hard for this. The mental aspect is super critical. And all these pieces didn’t have to be sold to the players. We are a team.”
The Ka Makani state title in 2014 was a sweet reward for the team, and the coaches.