Dan Hale lost track of exactly how much sanitizer his Saint Louis Crusaders used in the past five weeks.
Gallons, he says. Gallon after gallon. But the number of exhibition wins in this COVID-19 pandemic school year is memorable: 13, without a loss.
The Crusaders’ quest for basketball action came to a close on Saturday afternoon with a 76-43 win over Le Jardin at Clarence T.C. Ching Athletic Center. Their big men, Aiva Arquette and AJ Bianco, scored 19 points each. Guard Malu Ing tallied 13 points.
Saint Louis accomplished something no other school did: practice every day for five weeks with a regular game schedule, albeit 11 of the 13 games were against club teams. Most other private-school teams didn’t gear up with games until the past week.
There were handshakes and hugs aplenty as the Crusader hoopsters bid each other farewell.
“It’s bittersweet. It’s nice that we got a chance to get them playing,” Saint Louis Coach Dan Hale said. “I’m going to miss this senior group. A very solid senior group. They hung in there from workouts to practices to games, the evolution of this whole thing, they were with me the whole way as a team. It’s been very rewarding. All good things come to an end. It’s time for them to move on. We thank them for their contributions.”
On Friday, Saint Louis overpowered Punahou, 71-54, as Jydon Hall scored 23 points with three steals. Bianco added 19 points and 14 rebounds, and Arquette tallied 17 points and 10 boards. Arquette and Bianco are juniors. Peyton Macapulay led Punahou with 15 points and Drake Watanabe added 12.
With “Season 1” closing this weekend, the basketball team will plunge into spring sports. The likelihood of any more hoop games is very low as boys volleyball begins its season.
“Aiva has baseball, AJ has football, Kache (Kaio) has football, Haku (Marquez) has volleyball. They’ll be going their separate ways here. We’ll just regroup and get our young guys going,” Hale said. “When we count it out, we were close to 60 games for intermediate, JV, Varsity II and we had games. It’s all hands on deck when we’ve got these games together. Everybody’s got to help out.”
Hall may do some travel ball with an AAU team in Georgia, where he spent his junior year while living with his father.
Without a league schedule — the basketball season was cancelled by the Interscholastic League of Honolulu in July — each school was left to its own devices and methodology regarding workouts and protocols. It would have been easy for athletes to shrug and give less effort without a league or state title at stake.
“That’s the interesting thing. We never had a practice like that. These guys were thankful. They were grateful that we were able to do this,” Hale said. “They came out and they came hard. Some of our best moments were not in the games, but how hard we went against each other in practice. That was really, really nice to see. You could actually see how happy they were at the experience, to actually play basketball.”
Bianco, a 6-foot-4, 215-pound quarterback, won’t have an official league season in football, which was cancelled by the ILH on Friday. Bianco enjoyed lacing up the sneakers for five weeks of exhibition games on the hardwood.
“Everyone is competitive. We get out, five on five and scrimmage, we get competitive. We get ready for games,” Bianco said.
Saint Louis isn’t the only school that loves basketball, but getting support from higher levels isn’t as widespread. When the ILH heads met on Friday, Saint Louis was the only school that voted to play football this spring. In exhibition basketball, only Damien played a comparable number of games and scrimmages combined. Saint Louis was willing to play games without testing for COVID-19 — following CDC guidelines for student-athletes, Hale said — while following all other protocols.
“The support that we had is tremendous. It all lined up and it was a good year,” Hale said.
The Crusaders are well aware that their 2020-21 season was unique simply by existing, let alone running the table.
“Shout out to our faculty,” said Arquette, a standout shortstop on the diamond.
“Shout out to Saint Louis,” Hall added. “Shout out, Coach Dan.”