Overcoming ‘The Hurt’ In Red Raider Girls Basketball

Depth always has been regarded as a strength of Kahuku girls basketball through the years. This season, the team has had to rely on the full complement of its diminishing roster perhaps more than any year.

Head coach Scott De Silva already has lost key contributors in Talia Brown (ankle injury), Pati Anae (expired eligibility) and Tihane Kamai (knee injury) for the rest of the season. Now the team is playing without point guard Fia Tailele-Latu, who is currently day-to-day after injuring her knee at the beginning of a game with OIA East foe Kaiser High.

“Fia’s injury put a damper on the rest of the night (a loss to Kaiser) – it was tough to swallow,” De Silva admitted. “It forced us to make other adjustments, and we competed and battled and were down only 23-21 at the half and 36-33 in the fourth, so we were right there with them. To me, Fia is a difference maker. Would we have won if we had her? There are a lot of what if’s.”

With Tailele-Latu day-to-day, more playing time will open up for talented underclassmen, beginning Tuesday, when Kahuku closes out its season with a key road game versus McKinley. That outcome should figure big in the Red Raiders’ seeding for the upcoming OIA tournament. They must finish in the top six at the post-season tournament to earn a berth for the Division I state tournament.

“We have to move on with what we have,” De Silva said. “On the positive side, this allows us to play kids who haven’t gotten a lot of opportunities yet. We just have to go out and battle people and have kids step up and make plays. If Fia comes back, that would be perfect, but we all still need to work more closely together if we want to accomplish our goals.”

To their credit, the Red Raiders have weathered having a constantly changing starting lineup with six wins in their first eight games. The only losses came early – to Roosevelt and to Kaiser in the game where TaileleLatu was injured.

In McKinley, Kahuku will once again look to rely on its defense to set the tone. “Like Kalaheo (which Kahuku was to play over the weekend), McKinley is scoring a lot of points against DI teams,” De Silva said. “They (the Tigers) are a scrappy team. They do what they need to do, and they battle. If we don’t match their scrappiness, the odds won’t be favorable for us.

“We’ve played pretty decent defense,” he added. “If we take care of the little things, the big things will take care of themselves. We’re in the final stretch, and now more than ever we need to trust in each other.

“The one thing in our control is playing good defense and being aggressive.”