New Coach, New Mustang Players: Formula For Excitement

With a roster full of underclassmen, Kalaheo’s first-year head coach Shaina Ava’s in regroup mode going into preseason basketball camp this week.

But what the team may lack in experience, they should make up in athleticism.

“I wasn’t expecting as much growth from the girls between last summer and now as we’ve seen,” said Ava. “I’ve become more excited with each practice. Right now, we’re still getting to know each other. Other than four seniors, we’ll have a fairly young team. Everyone on the team is trying to find their role – coaches, too.”

Ava played as Shaina Siliga, a Kalaheo standout from 2002-2005 under then-coach Chico Furtado. She was girls JV head coach last year before the promotion. Ava also played at Citrus College.

The varsity team had solid season under Ava’s predecessor, Neal Bowers, winning the OIA White post-season tourney and going 8-8 en route to earning a berth in the DII state tournament. Bowers resigned to move to Germany and pursue a new career.

Ava’s building around senior forward Shauna Perry. “What I like about her is that she’s smart and has good game sense. We’re trying to mold that into her taking on a leadership role; it’s about her making everyone around her better. That will be a key. She already knows what to do.”

Ava also hopes at some point to regain guard Sierra Freitas, who injured her ACL near the end of the summer season.

Elsewhere on the roster, newcomers are poised to help. “We’re excited about a large number of players who are moving up from the JV team. I’ve drawn on my experience as their JV coach to figure out where to go with this group.

“We also have some girls who are new to our program. I honestly think that once we learn to communicate better, we’ll be a great team. We’re looking for them to buy into the program and take ownership of it.”

Kalaheo’s public unveiling is set for Nov. 21-23 when it hosts the annual Lee Cashman Pre-Season Invitational. The team also has home games scheduled against Punahou II Nov. 26 and Pearl City Nov. 30.