Gary Ellison has looked forward to this day for some time.
Now, Ellison and his staff have some real data to work with. In their first nonconference game of the boys basketball season, the Kapolei Hurricanes got plenty of work done, right through the entire roster. Zoar Nedd scored 11 points in a 58-33 victory over OIA Division II contender Kalani on Saturday afternoon at the Hawaii Self Storage McKinley Black and Gold Classic.
“The hustle was there, but we’ve got to play under control,” Ellison said. “It’s our first game and we’ve got some new guys, just trying to find our mix.”
Guard Isiah Higa suffered a left ankle injury in the first half and was on crutches after the game. Center Julius Buelow, a 6-foot-8, 300-pound junior, was off island making an unofficial football visit on the West Coast.
“I encouraged him to go,” Ellison said Buelow, who has 11 scholarship offers.
In game one against Kalani, the speed element was not quite at the usual Kapolei warp speed.
“I’m looking at everybody, and then we can determine roles. When everybody understands that, we’ll take off. There’s a lot of talent on this team,” Ellison said.
Nedd, now an inch taller at 6-5, powered the ‘Canes on both ends. The lanky guard/forward scored five points in the opening quarter as the Hurricanes opened a 16-6 lead. By halftime, the senior had nine points and Ellison got mega minutes from his reserves for the remainder of the contest. Nedd made an impact as a rebounder, passer, scorer and defender. His most valuable asset, though, may be his patience.
“The last time we played here was when we played Kahuku (in the OIA Division I title game last season),” Nedd said. “Especially in this tournament, we want to see who can do what. We have nine games before we have a bye. We haven’t implemented a lot of our things yet. The coaches just want to ease in. There’s only so much you can cover in one week and we have to make sure everyone is crisp. It just matters what the team does. It doesn’t matter how much I score.”
Nedd has two scholarship offers, thanks in part to a 4.0 grade-point average.
“I don’t want to say who. I don’t want to jinx it,” he said.
Marquis Montgomery, a 6-4 senior, scored all 14 of his points in the first three quarters. He’s healthy, often beating opponents downcourt in transition, after suffering a shoulder injury during football season.
Another key returnee, point guard Ja‘Shon Carter, added eight points as the ‘Canes mixed up their lineup.
Brandon Chung and Jrey Joslin led the Falcons with six points each.
Kapolei will meet University on Saturday, 1 p.m. Then comes a showdown with ILH powerhouse Maryknoll on Monday, 6:45 p.m.
“Coach said UH Lab is a good team and we’ve got to be ready,” Nedd said. “Maryknoll, that’s a big game, too. We’ve just got to execute everything that Coach says, and play defense. We’ve got to rebound together,” Nedd said. “Marcus (Tobin) is a big guy. I play with him in outside league. He’s a good rebounder. We’ve got to do what we can and execute.”
One of the Hurricanes, Jalen Miller, is awaiting a court decision on Dec. 12 about his eligibility. He played at Mililani last season, but transferred to his home district, Kapolei, in the offseason. He is on the Kapolei roster for now and played roughly half the game against Kalani.