Pualei Straight has seen the highs and the lows — mostly highs — from the wondrous athletic facility on Kapalama Heights.
She has seen the glory of years past while playing guard for Kamehameha. All of that, along with being the child of a coach (Dave Furtado), built the foundation for everything in the Warriors’ vision — and grasp.
Three seasons ago, the Warriors reached the state championship game, losing a thriller to ‘Iolani, 52-49. One year later, just before the pandemic, the Warriors contended for the ILH title, but ‘Iolani and Maryknoll earned the league’s two state-tournament berths.
The Warriors enter the 2021-22 girls basketball season with an unexpected challenge. Point guard Maddison Mangalao will be out with a season-ending injury, leaving Straight with three healthy returnees: seniors Kylee Kamauoha-Phillips and Payton Snoops and junior Kya Kanoho.
“All four of our returnees have been really great leaders to the rest of the team. We have a young and inexperienced team this year, so our returnees’ ability to lead will be crucial to our success,” Straight said. “They have been doing a great job of that so far.”
Kamehameha opens its nonconference slate today against California powerhouse Salesian College Prep at the ‘Iolani Classic, which also returns after a two-year hiatus. Salesian was 14-1 last season and returns 14 players this season.
Tip-off for the Warriors and the Pride is set for 5 p.m. Spectators are required to show vaccination cards and I.D.
ILH girls basketball teams officially returned to the hardwood last week.
“We have had to be extremely efficient with our practices. Everything we do in practice is on the clock to make sure that we cover everything we need before our first game. Our girls have been really focused during our practices and are picking things up quickly,” Straight said. “Because of the lack of preparation time, we are definitely trying to keep things simple and focusing on our execution, conditioning, and getting better every practice.”
The Warriors normally carry a full roster, but that’s not the case this winter. Straight has nine players on the roster.
“I think that all of our new players will have an impact on the court this year,” she said.
Newcomers include sophomores Kealohilani Kandiah and Kamalei Gonzalez, and freshmen Makenzie Alapai, Mikylah Labanon, Kezia Lucas and Kapōmaikaʻi Nakakura.
“We have a small and athletic roster with many girls that will have to play and guard multiple positions,” Straight said. “We have also added three outer island girls to our roster this year; two from Kauai, and one from Hawaii Island. Our roster now encompasses native Hawaiian kaikamāhine from three islands in our pae ʻāina.”
Bonus shots: ‘Iolani Classic girls tournament games will be streamed on www.iolani.org.
Thursday, Dec. 9
3:30 p.m. Lahainaluna vs. Centennial (Nev.)
5 p.m. Kamehameha vs. Salesian College Prep (Calif.)
6:30 p.m. ‘Iolani vs. Hawaii Baptist
8 p.m. Maryknoll vs. Archbishop Mitty (Calif.)