Falcons Almost Win It All

As Kalani boys basketball head coach Nathan Davis reflected on the recent season, the preseason was as much on his mind as the riveting post-season run.

“We played a very difficult preseason,” said Davis. “We played Punahou twice, we played Maryknoll, and we also traveled to California for a tournament. I told the kids that all of this would prepare us for the most important time of the year, and that kind of held true. We talked about staying the course and how every season is a process.”

In the end, the Falcons went further than any Kalani team in the school’s proud basketball history, advancing all the way to the Division II state championship game, where they were defeated by Hawaii Prep, 42-33, at Blaisdell Arena. Although falling just short in the title game, it was all about the journey, rather than the destination.

Under the current OIA format, Kalani played several DI teams during the season before breaking off into DII for the post-season. It had several near-misses versus DI teams (Kailua, Moanalua and Kalaheo) late in the season, games that served as “momentum builders” despite the outcomes.

A close win over a good Kaiser team Feb. 1 – the last day of the regular season – was seen as a key game, according to Davis. “That was a starting point (to the playoff run). It showed that we were coming together.”

Kaiser returned the favor by beating Kalani in the OIA DII title game 12 days later, but the Falcons regrouped in time for states. Defending DII state champion and top-seeded St. Francis from the ILH awaited Kalani in the state quarterfinal game. After trailing by a point through the first quarter, the Falcons posted huge second and third quarters to take control en route to a 54-41 win. In the semifinals a day later, Kalani took down fourth-seeded Kohala 70-59 to advance to the title game.

Davis cited the Falcons’ cohesiveness as one of the keys to their playoff run.

“This group really bonded well, and that showed in how hard they worked,” said Davis, whose coaching staff included Sein McKissen, Kido Kwan and Brandon Wilson. “The guys who didn’t start always worked hard, and they were a key (to our success). They all accepted their roles and were really a joy to coach. They were like sponges. We could count on them to absorb the things we told them from our scouting (of opponents).”

Kalani’s starting lineup for the state championship game was made up of Dallas Asuncion, Shane Ra, Jaron Yamauchi, Cory Mitchell and Brandon Roberts, while its supporting cast was Jeremy Robinson, Alexander Tungpalan, Blais Manabe, Dunavan Hahn, Kevin Kang, David Faletoi, Bryce Alvez, John Lam, John Suda, Juwan Bohannon and Ace Faumui.

Kalani’s future on the hardwood should be helped along by the current JV team, which advanced to the OIA title game recently. jackster.1969@ yahoo.com