Balanced Scoring Makes OIA Contender Out Of Leilehua
That the Leilehua boys basketball team is akin to a rock band without a front man is just fine with head coach Patrick Wetzel.
“Everyone has done their part and has been working together this year,” said Wetzel, whose team entered last weekend looking to extend its season in the OIA post-season tournament. “In our last five games, we’ve had a different leading scorer. Last year, we had Xavier (Adger) averaging 15 or 16 points a game, but this year we barely have anyone over 10, and we have five or six kids who are averaging between six and 10 (points per outing).
“To their credit, egos have been non-existent,” he added. “We’re not dependent on one player, and they all understand that any night might be their night. As the saying goes, ‘It’s not about the name on the back, it’s about the name on the front.'”
The Mules entered their first-round OIA tournament game last week (a 71-59 win over Kalani) having gone 8-2 in the regular season with their only two losses being to Campbell and Red West champ Kapolei. (The OIA’s double-elimination format tournament continues this week with the top five finishers earning the league’s berths for the Division I state tournament Feb. 22-25. Leilehua was to play Kahuku over the weekend).
Wetzel’s starting lineup lately has included T.J. Ross, Reece Acohido, Jeremiah Andrade and Russell Siavii, with Larry Wheeler-Rutkowski and Penetito Melei alternating in the fifth spot. “We have nine or 10 guys in the rotation, and that makes us hard to scout. It’s a real compliment to our depth that we can have someone in foul trouble, send in a replacement, and still make runs.”
Defensively, the Mules also have been solid, holding seven of their 10 league opponents to under 40 points. If they can maintain that kind of defensive presence in the OIA tournament, they figure to make the state cut.
“I think it’s a matter of our keeping an eye on the larger goal and understanding that we’ll get there with good defense and by playing with each other and believing in each other,” he said. “It helps a lot that we have a lot of football players, who come with that championship mentality. I think that is what has carried us.”