It’s no secret that the Kealakehe girls basketball program has lived in the shadow of crosstown Konawaena for some time. The Wildcats are often state title contenders — with 12 straight trips to the state tournament and five championships during that span — while Kealakehe has struggled to win games in BIIF competition.
However, the Waveriders do not have a case of neighbor envy. Veteran basketball mind and Kealakehe head coach Danny Kamakau stresses to his team that their primary concern should be self-improvement and learning to love the game of basketball.
“We don’t want to worry about win-loss records or the scoreboard, but rather focus on getting better and honoring the game,” Kamakau said. “We just have to worry about ourselves and what we have to do. It’s hard enough worrying about what we have to do that we can’t concern ourselves with what everyone else is up to.”
The Waveriders were winless during their 2012-13 campaign, ending the season with an 81-17 loss to Hilo in the BIIF semifinals. The team returns four players from that squad and has a roster that boasts six seniors.
Despite its senior-laden roster, many of Kealakehe’s cagers are inexperienced and still learning the finer points of the game. Kamakau is confident that as the team begins to find rhythm and familiarity the results will be immeasurable.
“It’s like music. If one note is wrong and you cannot get everyone on the same page, it won’t sound right,” Kamakau said. “If we play with consistency and continue the uphill climb the results should be great. The girls can see where they started and where they end up and feel good.”
Kamakau’s lessons of perseverance and never giving up have started to pay off. On Tuesday, the Waveriders won 57-26 against Laupahoehoe in their Big Island Interscholastic Federation opener.
“We are trying to carve a statue out of a block of stone right now,” Kamakau said. “It’s not a masterpiece yet, but I think everyone has come a long way in getting better as a group. For a lot of the youngsters this is all new when they first come out. There are those who have played in years past, but it’s only during this 14-week window that they participate.”
Kamakau has been satisfied with the turnout this year but admits that the busy winter season may account for dwindling numbers in participation.
“It would be nice if we went back to spring,” Kamakau said with a grin. “Most of the draw this time of year is soccer, paddling and swimming. I’ve been surprised by the turnout though and the amount of youngsters that came out this year was great.
“If these girls choose to play the sport 14 weeks out of 52, that’s a great start. Hopefully it will spark their interest and we can get them out more often.”