Four years of Hugh Hogland, an all-state player of the year, was a godsend and blessing to the storied boys basketball program at ‘Iolani.
Dean Shimamoto embraces the challenge in year one, post-Hugh, now that the 6-foot-9 standout is now at Portland University. The Raiders were in scrappy, hustling, air-tight defensive mode from start to finish in a 53-40 win over an equally tough Maui Sabers team on Thursday in the opening round of the Surfrider Holiday Classic at Kailua.
“We came out with more spirit and more energy. We’ve been talking about that, and we made it hard for (Maui) to score,” said Shimamoto, who guided ‘Iolani to state titles in 2010, ’14 and ’16.
Returnees Kawika Lee (14 points) and Cole Hogland (nine), brother of Hugh, led the way. It wasn’t pretty and it wasn’t aesthetically pleasing, but in a rugged ILH where Kamehameha, Maryknoll and Punahou return truckloads of talent and experience, ‘Iolani will be more than happy to play with all-out heart and guts every night.
“We had Hugh for four years and we’re just getting used to not having a 6-9 guy again. We’re getting back to gritty, undersized basketball,” Shimamoto said.
The senior class, he added, is doing his part while the junior group is making an impact.
“Kawika Lee and Noah Bumanglag, they’re stepping up,” Shimamoto said. “These guys really want it.”