Community League: Starting Them Young In Basketball

It is entirely by design that a typical Kailua Community Basketball League game goes down to the wire. At KCBL, lopsided outcomes are rare, owing in large part to efforts to evenly parcel out the talent that passes through the league, which is open to boys and girls ages 7-17.

“In most leagues, you come in with a team, and you go out and play (in the league),” said Le Jardin head girls basketball coach Gary Tanouye, a coach and board member with KCBL. “We didn’t want to exclude anyone. You don’t become a good player without first having the opportunity. We wanted to form a league for all kids, regardless of their skill level. As far as balance (evening out the teams), we’ve actually tracked this, and I’d say that probably 80 percent of games last year were decided by 10 points or less.”

It didn’t take long for KCBL to find its niche, especially in basketball tradition-rich Kailua. After attracting 16 teams and a total of 140 players in its first year, it expanded to include 20 teams and more than 200 players. Affiliated with the National AAU Association, it anticipates having 22 teams and 220 players this year.

Interest in basketball remains at an all-time high in the community, after all, given that Kalaheo and Kailua both played in the Division I and Division II state championship games last month.

The DI title game between Maryknoll and Kalaheo (won by the Mustangs), featured three players who compete in the KCBL – Kurt Vegas and Alec Macleod of Kalaheo, as well as Maryknoll’s Kaleb Gilmore. The DII final between Saint Francis and Kailua also featured three from the league: Shabir Lynton of Saint Francis and Surfrider players Matt Bishop and Russell Foster.

“That was exciting to see both Kailua and Kalaheo in the state title games,” Tanouye said. “It makes us happy to see anyone playing at the high school level from the league, since most won’t go on to play in college.”

Timing is another of KCBL’s attributes, according to board president Mike Chu. “We’re not in the summer, and we’re not in the winter,” he noted. “Playing from mid-August through the second week of September gives people a break from the other (fall) sports.”

For players who compete on their respective high school teams, whose season begins in early November, the KCBL season allows them to get in “game-shape” well before the official prep season.

KCBL will begin registration for its 2013 Spring Skills Clinic as well as its regular season April 6, 13, 20 and 27 at Enchanted Lake Park. The clinics will be on four successive Sundays – April 14, 21, 28 and May 5 (ages 7-9, 8:30-9:45 a.m.; ages 10-13, 9:45-11; ages 14-17, 11 a.m.-12:15 p.m.). The clinic is limited to 25 per age group, and the season to 80 per division and 220 total players.

Players’ birthdates must be between 1996 and 2006, and they must bring a copy of their birth certificate and a medical insurance card to the signups. For more information, call Tanouye at 216-8103, Chu at 352-1364, Carl Maybin at 221-0553 or Akira Usami at 291-9087.