If you saw this morning’s Star-Advertiser Boys Basketball Top 10 poll, your jaw may have hit the floor after seeing this factoid: the Kalaheo Mustangs are 25-4 overall.
Think about it. Most teams have played 15, maybe 20 games or so including regular-season games. Kalaheo, which is 3-0 in the Oahu Interscholastic Association. Just being 25-4 is remarkable for a Kalaheo team with a center who recently returned from a serious knee injury (Nainoa Frank). But what’s really remarkable is that they managed to play 29 games in such a short span of time.
“The girls had a two-week start on us and they had a lot of games scheduled in our gym,” Smith explained on Monday. “Instead of trying to squeeze in 45-minute practices, I said, ‘Let’s play more games.’ ”
Smith, a former All-State guard who played for his father, the late Pete Smith, got no argument from his players. That’s the other aspect of this team; many of them played together in the offseason in various leagues, and the chemistry was fully evident even back last summer as they competed and beat bigger teams, faster teams, flashier teams.
But they are, no question, 25-4 right now. There are basketball teams that don’t play that many games in an entire season. Last year’s Konawaena girls squad went 32-1 en route to the state title, by far more games than any team male or female.
“We went to the Big Island to start preseason and we played Honokaa before the (Keaau-Waiakea) tournament. We played them at their place in front of a hostile crowd,” Smith said of the salty, sometimes funny audience at Lester Bryan Armory. “Oh yeah, that helped.”
The challenge tonight is monumental, though in the friendly confines of Kalaheo’s gym and Pete Smith Court: rival Kahuku. Win by win, it’s possible the ‘Stangs — as it reads on their jerseys — could finish the year with 35-plus wins. When the OIA regular season ends, Kalaheo will be in the Division II playoffs — yes, I know, the OIA classification scheme still stinks to high heaven, but at least the East-West setup has renewed old rivalries — and even with a tough field, the Mustangs could go beyond 35 W’s.
If that happens, I’ll have no problem clarifying any confusion. It won’t be a typo. It might happen again next season, too, when Frank and guard Josh Ko return as seniors.
Paul Honda, Star-Advertiser