Hawaii Select Uniting Amid Mainland Basketball Battles
After going 4-1 at the prestigious Double Pump Best of Summer Basketball Tournament recently in Anaheim, Calif., you can’t blame the Hawaii Select traveling all-star team for not wanting the trip to end.
Fortunately for Alika Smith’s team, it didn’t end there, as Hawaii Select spent last weekend competing in the Fab 48 Tournament in Las Vegas. In all, Hawaii Select (Under-17) spent 14 days off the island between its appearances at both tournaments.
“Team bonding is one of the things that we wanted to accomplish here, and it’s working,” said Smith. “This group is still learning to play together.”
As in past years, Windward-based Hawaii Select found fierce competition on the Mainland, and most of its opponents come from far more heavily populated states.
“It is a lot more physical here, but the kids have adjusted,” said Smith. “They’ve gelled and are doing well. We have competitors on the team, and they all want to play against new competition.”
At the Double Pump Best of Summer tourney, Hawaii Select won its first four games, a stretch highlighted by a 53-51 victory over the highly regarded Oakland Soldiers. In two of its games, Hawaii Select had to recover from early deficits of 16-6 and 17-5 to earn wins.
“They are one of the top West Coast teams out there,” Smith said of Oakland.
Hawaii Select’s run was stopped in the championship bracket by Arizona Power. It was leading in the second half before eventually losing by five points.
The win over Oakland was marred by an ankle injury to Kupaa Harrison, Kalaheo’s standout senior-to-be. The good news is that, following four days of rest, Smith was expecting him to be back in the lineup when the team was to start play at the Fab 48 Tournament late last week.
“He won’t be 100 percent, but he’s going to try it and see what happens,” Smith said.
Harrison and Maryknoll transfer Kaleb Gilmore, who will be playing at Kalaheo next winter, provided much of Hawaii Select’s offense on the trip.
“It’s been a team effort,” Smith said. “Kaleb has probably averaged 25 points a game (at the Double Pump tournament), and Kupaa was averaging around 22 a game when he got hurt. More kids got to play when Kupaa got hurt, and they all stepped up, which is good.”
The roster also includes Kekai Smith, Alec MacLeod, Jalen Smith, Alex Layi, Cyrus Kama, Jessiya Villa and Jordan Tanuvasa. Among the team’s main contributors has been post player Kama, according to Smith. Kama is a 6-4 senior-to-be, who played at Lahainaluna last winter.
“He’s been a big help,” Smith said. “He’s been real aggressive, and he’s been holding his own against guys who are 6-(foot)-9 and 6-10 with his strength.”
Prior to its West Coast trip, Hawaii Select had gone undefeated (12-0) in Kalaheo’s Summer League.