6 games in, chemistry improves gradually for Kalani

Kalani’s Kamalu Kamakawiwo’ole drove through the lane for two points in a game against 'Iolani. Photo by Dennis Oda/Star-Advertiser.

The old saying is Rome was not built in a day.

Neither is any basketball team just one week into the preseason, so all expectations and hopes for the Lady Falcons of Kalani can be tempered. Just a little.

The defending OIA Division I champions notched their first and only win in the Matsumoto Law Group McKinley Black and Gold Classic on Monday, pulling away from Mid-Pacific 54-39. It was another energetic effort by freshman point guard Kalena Halunajan, who led with 16 points. Kamalu Kamakawiwo‘ole, who appears to have grown since last year, added 13 points and continued her rugged play in the paint.

“Yes, the team is still gelling and the girls are still figuring out their roles. We coaches have work to do trying to figure out the right chemistry at the right times,” Kalani coach Chi Mok said.

Kalani (4-2) lost a nail-biter to Kamehameha 69-65 on Friday, and then was dissected by ‘Iolani 68-49. It was a lesson for the Falcons, who will have time to build chemistry between old and new parts in the offense.

“I think we improved on intensity on defense and on offense, getting in the game. We started slow in the ‘Iolani and Kamehameha game. We didn’t have the intensity,” Kamakawiwo‘ole said.

Kalani has the blueprint for run-and-gun basketball, but seemed more efficient against MPI with a medium tempo. Center Candyce Woods is especially precise in the paint, and when she’s on the floor, Kamakawiwo‘ole is a 5-foot-11 slasher with wings. A major mismatch for most forwards and guards.

After attending Kaimuki Middle School with several of her current teammates, Kamakawiwo‘ole went to Maryknoll for three years.

“Their game changed, too. They’re more aggressive. They look for their shots, too. I’ve got to get used to getting into their flow and how they run their offense,” she said.

Kalani (4-2) lost to Kamehameha 69-65 and ‘Iolani 68-49, then beat Mid-Pacific.

Win or lose, it was a valuable measuring stick in week one.

“I’d say we need two or three weeks to learn how everyone plays, what’s their strengths and weaknesses,” Kamakawiwo‘ole said. “If I have a mismatch, I’ll post up. Whoever’s hot.”

The Falcons have a week of practice in the gym ahead. They don’t play another game until next Tuesday. Kalani will host Hawaii Baptist. JV tip-off will be 5:30 p.m., followed by varsity.

“This time off will give us us lots of practice time to iron out some of the kinks,” Mok said. “Slowly getting the new girls integrated into the system. We saw an improvement game over game this weekend. That’s what we are looking for in the preseason. The team maintains a positive attitude.”


  1. Burgla November 13, 2018 8:44 pm

    You are right about the efficiency that Kandyce Woods brings and Kamalu together is most times going to be tough for everyone. It’s pretty clear they are more dominant with Alana Akiona shooting to balance that. This could be a dangerous team!!

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