Davis: Intact Coaching Staff Part Of Falcons’ Turnaround

Nathan Davis may technically be a product of Roosevelt, but he’s quickly found a home at Kalani.

“If I had to go back to high school, I’d like to go there (Kalani),” said Davis, who is finishing up his fifth season as the Falcons’ head basketball coach. “I enjoy coaching there.”

There is, of course, always more fun in winning than losing, and the long-suffering Falcons have turned the corner in that regard as well, having posted their second winning season in three years. (The program went 1-16 the year before Davis took over.) The Falcons were hoping to still be alive this week in the OIA double-elimination Red tournament, which enters its second week.

Kalani defeated Waianae (53-31) in its playoff opener last Tuesday to advance to a second-round matchup with Leilehua, which is the No. 2 seed out of the West. The top five finishers at the OIA tournament earn the league’s berths for the Division I state tournament Feb. 22-25.

A state tournament appearance would plainly solidify Kalani’s return to the high-rent district of Oahu basketball, but regardless of how its post-season turns out, the Falcons have already had a year to remember. Kalani’s 6-5 record in the Red is more impressive, given near-wins against defending OIA champ Moanalua (33-31 loss) and East regular-season champ Kahuku (57-51), whom the Falcons had led for most of the game.

Kalani, which entered the post-season on a threegame win streak, also upgraded its preseason schedule to include ILH foes Iolani and Maryknoll. The Falcons’ junior varsity also enjoyed a solid season, finishing in a tie for second in the OIA.

Progress on the hardwood mirrors Kalani’s football resurgence to a degree, and for good reason, to hear Davis tell it. “Pretty much our whole (basketball) team is made up of football players, and they are on the rise. We hope to get a little better each year, and around year five we want to be competing for a championship. I think we are on pace for that.”

Davis played for John Chung at Roosevelt and was an assistant in the program for five seasons before being brought over to Kalani, where he also teaches social studies.

“I can’t say enough about the help he (Chung) has given me,” said Davis, who also noted the influence of former Roosevelt head girls coach and current Chaminade coach Bobby Keanini. “Whenever I need advice, I call him.”

Davis also has been able to keep his own staff intact in his five seasons at Kalani. “Having them stay together has been a great asset,” Davis said of his staff, which includes Brandon Wilson, Kido Kwan and Sein McKissen. “We have a bunch of young coaches who enjoy working together. We’ve had to try to change the culture a little bit.”

Seniors Tatsuya Ono, Kory Kashiwabara, Keano Kuia, Sam Kahalewai and junior David KakaliaRasmussen have been the team leaders for Davis’s current team. Ono ended the regular season averaging an OIA-best 14.5 points per game, the second year in a row he led the entire league in scoring.

“He does a lot for us,” Davis said of Ono. “He was more of a shooter last year, but he worked really hard to improve his athleticism. He can shoot, and he can get to the rim. He averaged seven rebounds and seven assists, and he’s a 90 percent free-throw shooter.

“Kory has to be one of the hardest-working players I’ve ever coached he puts a lot into it,” Davis added. “Keano is a fantastic shooter and a heckuva rebounder at his position. David is ‘high-energy’ and a great locker room guy. The biggest positive this year has been the guys understanding that the regular season is a process, and what matters is that you’re playing your best basketball at tournament time.”