Bet ya’ didn’t expect a positive spin.
The two football boys were not there.
The two Akina boys were.
The Akina coach was not behind the bench. The Akana coach was.
There is some in-house fighting up there on the North Shore. Alan Akina was deposed as coach (at least temporarily). The word is that he was told not to bring up his youngest son, Kawika Akina, from the junior varsity team, but that he did just that based on, he said, Kawika’s merit on the court. He was suspended and then he filed suit.
His two boys, Keanu Akina, a veteran sharpshooting starting guard, and Kawika, a speedy freshman ball-handler off the bench, are out there playing. And they’re not rattled.
“It was rough at first,” Keanu Akina said Thursday after a 57-55 home win over Moanalua, referring to his father’s suspension. “We don’t have issues on the court. We all block everything out. I was really inspired about the way my dad handled everything. He stood up for what he believed in.”
Despite these troubles, it was obvious that there was some good chemistry on the basketball court Thursday night. And it was apparent that the Red Raiders really wanted to beat rival Na Menehune.
So, imagine what Kahuku is going to be like when the talented, athletic Bradlee Anae and Hirkley Latu return? Can you imagine those two seniors’ reaction when they heard what went down without them? Anae is visiting Vanderbilt and Latu is on an official visit to Oregon State. Football recruiting gets in the way of basketball.
However, maybe this was just a sign of things to come with all the negativity swirling around —— off the court. Maybe Anae and Latu being away will pump up the team even more when they return.
Three Kahuku players are the sons of parents named as defendant’s in Akina’s suit —— Kenny Spencer, Kieran Spencer and Codie Sauvao. All had a big hand in Kahuku’s victory Thursday —— as did the two Akinas.
The suit alleges that parents of those three players —— Pua Spencer (Kenny and Kieran’s mom) and Deloma Sauvao (Codie’s mom) —— put pressure on the Kahuku administration to have coach Akina removed.
So, despite all of this stuff going on, Kahuku appeared to thrive Thursday on the court. Off the court, Sauvao and Kieran Spencer both gave Keanu Akina a “yeah you!!!!” and a big smile while Akina was being interviewed for this story. It’s slang for whatever you want it to mean, I guess —— like “yo buddy” or “what’s up dude” or “you da man!”
Chew on that one for a while. Keanu and Kawika’s dad is the Plaintiff. Codie’s and Kieran and Kenny’s moms are among the Defendants.
Add in another controversial element —– the addition of Brandyn Akana as the interim head coach. He was fired by the University of Hawaii for breaking NCAA rules, and that “fact” held up in the NCAA investigation.
Yet, here he is doing what he wants to do. Coach basketball! Keanu Akina, playing basketball! Codie Sauvao, the two Spencers, Kawika Akana, playing basketball!
Everything is hunky dory, almost. Alan Akina is not coaching. Not sure he was in attendance last night.
“Can we all just get along?” Rodney King said that in the early 1990s after he was brutally beaten by police officers and Los Angeles citizens rioted because of it.
Indeed. Get along. Not easy. Not impossible, either.
Akana was impressed with how his bench stepped up in Anae’s and Latu’s absence. He talked about how great the Kahuku kids are.
Everybody’s got their troubles. If it wasn’t known beforehand while interviewing these guys, there would be no way to tell that any of them could possibly be in turmoil.
And maybe they are in turmoil. If you know any of them (the three Akinas, Sauvao, the two Spencers and Akana), go give them a hug. It can’t be easy for them.
Life is not all bouncing basketballs and boxing out for rebounds. This is real-life stuff. It’s in a court of law. You almost wish that Akina could go and get his job back by swishing in a 3-pointer or that Kahuku principal Pauline Masaniai and/or athletic director Gillian Yamagata, two more of the defendants, could prove that they made the correct decision in changing coaches by hitting five straight free throws.
A common high school sports refrain is “It’s all about the kids.”
Well, it’s really not sometimes. But it should be.
There is only one suggestion here. Whoever you are in this imbroglio, drop your guard for a few minutes, and dig deep inside and see if there is anything you can do to work it out. Teamwork. These people are not your enemies really, although you may see it that way now.
If you wanted to, you could all make it work. Akina, Akana, Sauvao, Spencer, Latu, Anae, Yamagata, Masaniai.
Latu and Anae? They’re not involved in the dispute, right? No. But they are leaders, so they have a stake in it.
Working it out? Could be wishful thinking from an optimist.
Hey, and if not, this Kahuku team could have some serious chemistry developing —— on the basketball court, at least.