Kahuku’s Gridiron Hoopsters Warming Up For OIA Playoffs

Even for a natural athlete like Lamone Williams, the transition from football to basketball is far from a direct line. The junior forward stays on course through his will to work.

“Working hard is in our genes,” said Williams, a college football prospect — and more currently a key contributor to the Kahuku basketball team. “That’s the way we live up here. We grow up watching (Kahuku) football, and being on top is what motivates us.”

On the hardwood, understand- ably, the Red Raiders are always best in February after the bulk of their team has fully transitioned from football. “In football, you go hard for six to 10 seconds a play,” Williams said. “In basketball, you are constantly moving. It’s a big transition and a big challenge for us, since most of us also are football players.

The conditioning is different for both. Basketball is not my best sport, but if I put in as much effort as I do for football, I probably can do well or better than I’ve been.”

Williams and Kahuku entered the last weekend of OIA Red play with a 6-4 mark and will now turn their attention to this week’s post-season conference tournament, where head coach Darren Johnson anticipates earning the No. 4 seed from the East. The top six teams from the OIA tournament will earn the league’s berths for the upcoming Division I state tournament, which Feb. 20-23.

Last year, the team hit its stride at the right time, winning the OIA en route to a runner-up finish at the state tourney. Should Kahuku make a similar run as planned this time around, Johnson will count on a big effort from Williams, who is 6-feet-4. Last season, Williams was on the JV team.

“Lamone is one of those special kids who comes along maybe once in a lifetime,” Johnson said of Williams, who is averaging 6.6 points per game. “He’s one who improves at everything he does because of his work ethic. He’s quiet and humble — a future leader and a good student. He’s on top of everything.”

Williams already is being recruited for football by Hawaii, Oregon and Oregon State, among other West Coast schools, but his concentration at present is firmly on Kahuku’s basketball season. “We have a strong team heading into the playoffs,” he said. “We still have to find our true potential. We haven’t played our best basketball yet, so we should peak at the right time.

“Our defense has been pretty good,” he added. “If we play good defense, then our offense should fall into place.”

The Red Raiders also have counted on Kawe Johnson (13.3 ppg), Lasselle Thompson (10.5) and Hirkley Lau (7.6), among others.

The team is averaging 55 points per game, offensively. Defensively, it’s yielding 48.3 points per outing.