Kalaheo Basketball Shaping Up With Summer Competition

With the recent addition of standout Kaleb Gilmore, Kalaheo boys basketball head coach Alika Smith knows practices will be intense next season.

He’s been seeing as much on a daily basis as Gilmore’s coach on the Hawaii-Select traveling team.

“He sets a different tone,” Smith said of Gilmore, who transferred to Kalaheo this summer from Maryknoll. “He’s quick, and we have to be able to run with him. When one brings it, the others tend to follow. He brings all of that. It’s great to see the other kids pick it up and follow his lead.”

Gilmore averaged 18.9 points per game last season, helping Maryknoll make the semifinals of the Division I state tournament. The Spartans had been state runner-up to Kalaheo the previous year when Gilmore was a junior. His team went 26-6 including pre-season games last season, and were 10-3 in the ILH.

He scored double figures in every game he played last winter, including a season-high 30 points in a 69-60 win over Iolani in January. Other highlights: going 15-of-16 from the free-throw line in the ILH championship game, as well as a three-game stretch in the post-season that saw him average 24 ppg.

For the year, Gilmore shot 37.8 percent on 3-pointers and 71.7 percent from the free-throw line. He also was named to the All-Tournament Team at the Division I state tourney and was a First Team All-Red East pick.

His presence also will complement the considerable talents of new team-mate Kupaa Harrison. Harrison, who will be a senior, averaged 18.4 points per game last season in leading the Mustangs to an 11-3 mark in the OIA Red East.

The team went 26-10 overall, including pre-season games, in what was supposed to be a rebuilding year. A post-season injury undermined his momentum, but Harrison still is regarded as a top player in the state in his class, and Smith said he’s back to form.

“He’s 100 percent now,” Smith said of Harrison, who is the son of former Radford and Kailua head coach Tim Harrison. “I’m excited. He’ll take a lot of pressure off of Kaleb, and Kaleb will take a lot of pressure off of him. It’s going to be fun to watch. We play a different style than what Kaleb played at his last school.

“They look really good. Slowly, they’re gelling.”

Kalaheo again will have the services of point guard Kekai Smith. A junior-to-be, Smith was a Second Team All-Conference pick in the Red East last summer.

“He’s gotten stronger,” Smith said of his nephew. “He’s getting better every week, and his confidence is growing. He’s probably one of the better defenders that we have.”

Also in the mix on Hawaii-Select are Mustangs Alec MacLeod, Jalen Smith and Alex Layi, along with newcomers Cyrus Kama, Jessiya Villa and Jordan Tanuvasa.

Hawaii-Select was 12-0 in summer league games as of press time, and was to play against Off the Bench last Friday night in the championship game at Kalaheo.

The team is in Anaheim, Calif., this week to participate in the Double Pump Best of Summer Tournament.

From there, coaches and crew travel to Las Vegas for the Fab 48 Tournament. In all, Smith and company will be away from the Islands 14 days.

“It’s a team bonding thing that will go a long way,” he said. “They’ll have a lot of fun.

“We always make sure we take a group who are, first and foremost, good people as well as good players.”