Not one, not two, not three or four.
Five injuries hit the Kamehameha Warriors starting in the offseason and through preseason. Somehow, coach Pua Straight and her squad are making the best of it.
The Warriors overpowered another depleted team, Division II powerhouse Damien, 55-38, on Wednesday night at the Lady Monarchs gym. Each team suited up just seven players, but the Warriors have been in ironwoman mode. Makenzie Alapai, a freshman, had 17 points and 16 rebounds to ignite Kamehameha, which also got 17 points and three 3-pointers from senior guard Kylee Kamauoha-Phillips.
Kamehameha’s urgency on the glass was a big edge. The Warriors outrebounded Damien 41-25. Twenty of those 41 caroms were on the offensive board.
“I usually think of it as getting rebounds will help my team. If I’m not helping on offense or I’m not doing anything, I will go for the ball on the shot,” Alapai said.
Kamauoha-Phillips made an impact two years ago as a sophomore who was often a blur on the hardwood. Now, she’s a senior combo guard who is crucial in Kamehameha’s halfcourt execution as a playmaker — and long-range shooter.
“I like to drive a lot, but I have to learn other positions like shooting (guard) so I can open up lanes for myself and open up opportunities for my teammates to score,” she said.
No matter how the Warriors execute offensively, they literally take pride in their defense and rebounding.
“We have a rebounding drill called “pride.” You’ve got to take pride on defense, box out, get the rebound and score out of defense,” Kamauoha-Phillips said. “Every practice. The loser runs.”
“That’s also one of our motivations for rebounding, the running after practice. No one wants to do that,” Alapai added.
Damien played with a lineup of guards and wings. Two post players, both starters, will return to the team soon. That didn’t stop the Lady Monarchs from hustling, even when Kamehameha went on big runs in the second and third quarters.
“I feel terrible. We could’ve done better,” junior guard Theresa Anakalea said.
Tiare Arquero led Damien (3-1) with 13 points. Akaecia Mateo had nine points and seven boards, and Anakalea had eight points and seven caroms. The Warriors, playing man-to-man in halfcourt defense, kept a defender glued to the high-scoring Anakalea all game long. The Warriors also utilized fullcourt pressure occasionally, forcing 21 turnovers by the home team.
“Definitely, our passes can be better, and on defense, helpside we need more talking,” she said. “We’ll get better and learn from it.”
Kamehameha was set to play Sacred Hearts on Thursday, but the game was cancelled. Damien had a matchup with ‘Iolani earlier in the week that was also scratched. The surge in COVID-19 numbers locally has made an impact, but teams remain vigilant about protocols at preseason games. There were no spectators at Wednesday’s game.
“We don’t play until we play ‘Iolani on the 11th (of January),” Kamehameha coach Pua Straight said.
With an open week in early January, there may be more exhibition games. The OIA is continuing with its game schedule, which tipped off last Thursday and continued on Tuesday.
“The gap is new. We’ll see what our administration thinks about us getting more games,” Straight said. “Since we have such a young group, we’re trying to get in as much games as we can so we can get comfortable.”
The extra workouts for Kamehameha, which hadn’t played a game since Dec. 11, are a blessing in disguise.
“We haven’t had much time to practice, so today we actually had a two-hour practice and then a game. We had things that we need to put in and are continuing on our offense and our sets,” coach Straight said. “They’re a little bit tired.”