Cougars To Host Girls Hoops Tourney

Relentless defense and an up-tempo offensive attack have been staples of Simon Bitanga’s Kaiser basketball teams since he took over the program six years ago.

As the Lady Cougars officially start preseason camp this week, they already have the look of a prototypical Kaiser team.

“We’re young and scrap-py,” he said. “We lost a little height from last year, but we’ve gained more speed. We should be exciting.”

Kaiser is coming off another solid season that saw the girls team go 12-7 overall (10-1 in OIA East) en route to an appearance in the DI state tournament.

Gone from that team is Bitanga’s daughter, Mikaela, who completed her eligibility and whose talents now belong to Clark College in Washington state. A trio of returnees – Chantelle Arce, Rose Shimaoka and Brandi Arita -will figure big in the 2013-14 rotation. All three gained valuable experience last season and are poised to make even bigger contributions.

“Chantelle is good on both sides of the ball – she’s always one who does the things that win games,” Bitanga said. “All of our girls always will do what you ask, especially her.”

Arce is the leading scorer among returnees, having averaged 8.1 points per outing last winter.

Shimaoka was a freshman last year, but played more like an upperclassman. “We knew she was going to play varsity as either a freshman or sophomore, so we brought her up last year to see how fast the game (at varsity level) is and to play against experienced teams.” (She averaged 6.1 points per game a year ago.) “She did very, very well for a freshman.”

Now a senior, Arita has emerged as one of the team’s defensive specialists.

“Brandi worked hard in the off-season. She’s a shutdown defender. We’re excited to see what she can do as a senior. During the summer, she was making a couple of three’s a game. She was never a scorer, so getting points from her is a plus.”

Bitanga also is excited about sophomore transfer Brook Ho, who competes with Bitanga’s Eastsidaz Basketball Club. “She’s our big (post player). She’ll take care of the middle for us. She’s already on the right track.”

Kaiser won’t have to wait long to see first-rate competition. It will again host a three-day tourney Nov. 14-16, which will bring together some of the state’s top teams: state runner-up Konawaena, Lahainaluna, Kamehameha-Hawaii, (defending state champ) Kamehameha-Kapalama and Punahou, plus the OIA’s Roosevelt and Moanalua.