Hard Work Making Curtis Tavares A Hurricane Standout

Ready or not, in the early winter of 2010, sophomore Curtis Tavares found himself the newcomer on the Kapolei varsity basketball team, and he was determined to make the most of the experience.

“When I first moved up, it was a shock because I didn’t think I’d move up that fast,” said Tavares, now a senior and a major contributor for the Hurricanes. “The players were bigger and stronger (than at JV level). I took it as a challenge to try to work harder at my game.”

He hasn’t stopped working on his game since, spending as many as six to eight hours per day practicing on his own during the summer months or when the team has an off day.

“Sometimes I’ll go to the Kroc Center, and sometimes I’ll go over and play on the outdoor court at the (Kapolei) Rec Center – wherever I can get to,” said Tavares, who is currently Kapolei’s leading scorer at 10.6 points per game. “I’ll practice my shooting, my dribbling, my defense, and work at keeping my conditioning up. So far, I feel good about the way I’m shooting.”

Tavares’ outside shooting has been a big boost for the Hurricanes, who still were undefeated at 5-0 in OIA play heading into last Thursday’s late game with Waipahu. Through five league games he’d already connected on nine 3-pointers and 24 overall including preseason games. In OIA play, Tavares has hit on at least one 3-pointer a game and has twice tallied three in wins over Mililani and Aiea, respectively.

The Hurricanes were only a few plays away from winning the OIA title last year, dropping a closely contested, best-of-three series to Kahuku en route to a 15-3 record. Tavares is hoping the Hurricanes can finish a little unfinished business at next month’s OIA tournament.

“I remember the day after last season ended, we were cleaning out our lockers and we talked among ourselves of wanting to get to that point again and accomplish our goal (of winning the OIA),” he said. “We came so close. It motivated us.”

By his sophomore year, Tavares had a choice to make between playing soccer and basketball. The soccer program has been one of the most visible in the OIA and currently is ranked 42nd nationally.

“I was 3 years old when I first picked up a basketball, and by the time I was in sixth grade I began to think that basketball was something I wanted to pursue,” he said. “Both (soccer and basketball programs) have real good kids, but basketball has always kind of been a first love for me.”

Logging playing time at Kapolei means playing solid defense, according to Tavares. “We really stress defense in practice. All the boys go hard and work on playing the defense correctly. Coach (Gary Ellison) makes it fun, too. He mixes it up with the drills.”

Kapolei returns to action Friday with a road date versus Leilehua. The Hurricanes close out their regular season next Monday at home against Campbell.