Kahuku still isn’t at full strength, but the fourth-ranked Red Raiders aren’t exactly shorthanded.
Kahuku was without point guard Alohi Gilman early in the OIA East season while he played in the Polynesian All-American Bowl and the All-State cornerback likely won’t be available to the basketball team for two more weeks after suffering an ankle injury in the all-star football game.
While awaiting Gilman’s return, the Red Raiders added 6-foot-2 guard Tama Green to the backcourt rotation, bringing even more height to an already lengthy lineup.
Green, one of three impact transfers from New Zealand, made his first start of the regular season in Kahuku’s 56-44 win at Moanalua on Wednesday. He ably ran the Red Raider offense while taking care of most of the ball handling responsibilities and finished with four points.
Kahuku coach Alan Akina said Green had been hampered by an injury early in the season then battled the flu, which sapped some of his energy for Wednesday’s game. Even so, Green, who scored five points in a win over Kalani last week, helped energize the Red Raiders against Na Menehune while working into the chemistry of the lineup.
Green running the point eases the load on guard Keanu Akina and swingman Samuta Avea. Along with Akina’s 3-point shooting, the height and athleticism of Avea (6-4) and Denhym Brooke (6-7) on the wing can stretch defenses, creating room inside for 6-6 center Hyrum Harris.
“You can see it’s not fully flowing but the potential is there,” Akina said.
“With Alohi out, that extra ball handler is huge. It frees up our shooters. We’re going let Keanu shoot more. Samuta can get his shots open and we can spread it out and let the big guys go to work.”
Defensively, the Red Raiders’ 2-3 zone takes on an even more imposing look with Green on the floor. With Green and the 5-10 Akina up top, the wide wingspans of the Avea and Brooke tighten passing lanes with Harris protecting the paint against anyone attacking the gaps.
When the starters up front need a break, 6-4 Bradlee Anae is first off the bench. Alan Akina was also pleased with the play of sophomore Kesi Ah Hoy off the bench on Wednesday. Akina said Ah Hoy continues to work into basketball mode after leading the football team in rushing in the fall, and provided four points on Wednesday.
While the Red Raiders’ continue to work on their consistency, their progress over the first 2 1/2 weeks of the regular season provides an indication of the potential still left to be tapped.
“You can feel it,” Akina said. “The last three our four practices have been good. They can sense it, that we’re getting there. Little frustrations here and there, but you can see it creeping up.”
After Wednesday’s win, Kahuku (5-1) is alone in second in the OIA East, one game behind top-ranked Kalaheo. The Red Raiders play at Kailua (4-2) on Saturday.