New Job, Late Start Doesn’t Deter Kahuku Coach De Silva

As always, the first year at a school is invariably the so-called transition year for a coach. In Scott De Silva’s case, his hiring as Kahuku’s head girls’ coach came seemingly at the 11th hour, creating more challenges.

“A lot of it was maturing and learning the system. I was hired in August too late for our summer season and with a new system and coach, we needed a lot of practice time,” said De Silva, whose Red Raiders were 14-4 (9-2 in league games) through their first 18 games as of late last week, “but I thought we would have the opportunity and capability of competing at a high level.”

Indeed, upon further review, getting a late start on 2011-12 only made the Red Raiders’ progression over the past few months all the more gratifying. Last week, De Silva and Kahuku finished up their season at the Hawaiian Airlines Division I State Tournament, where they posted riveting wins over both Kamehameha (39-35) and OIA champ Pearl City (42-41) to advance to the semifinals late last Thursday. The game against Kamehameha came with extra intrigue since De Silva was an assistant coach at Kamehameha last season.

Before becoming the caretaker of the Kahuku program, De Silva had a successful four-year stint as head coach at Mililani.

He also spent time at Nanakuli and Kalaheo in addition to working as an assistant last year at Kamehameha under Clay Cockett, who retired at season’s end after a long stint.

Unlike last year, De Silva and Kahuku will have a full off-season behind them when they open regular-season practice early next November.

Adding to the optimism will be the addition of several underclassmen who helped lead Kahuku’s JV team to an Oahu Interscholastic Association title this winter.

“We moved four from that group up to the varsity for the playoffs, and they’re all going to be big contributors the next two years, and for some (already on the varsity but getting limited playing time), their time might be next year. It’s a learning process,” De Silva said. “We’re very much encouraged with our Intermediate program as well.”

Kahuku’s 2011-12 team was led by senior Leighlani Paselio and junior Fia Tailele-Latu.

“Leigh was steady all year,” DeSilva said of Paselio, a Florida-transfer who led the state in scoring for much of the year at 15.4 points per game. “Fia has a lot of skills, and she’s learning to use those skills to make the others around her better.”

In the post, Pati Anae will likely see her responsibilities increase next season after seniors Mata Tonga and Tyra Williams completed their eligibility last week.

While Kahuku is always blessed with athletic talent, DeSilva acknowledged that the Red Raiders often have few, if any, players concentrating exclusively on basketball, noting that the majority of current OIA-Champion Pearl City’s team “play basketball all year long.”

“Basketball is not the No. 1 sport for girls on the North Shore, volleyball is, but we still have to place some importance on basketball and work during the summer,” he said.