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Summer Hoops For Lady Mustangs: Good Defense, No Cliques

A commitment to solid defensive play was always a given at Kalaheo High School during Shaina Awa’s basketball playing days. Now as the Lady Mustangs’ first-year head coach, that mindset is still firmly in place.

“I see a solid foundation for what could be a good defensive team,” said Awa, whose maiden name was Siliga when she was a standout from 2002-2005 under then-coach Chico Furtado. “We have a lot of speed. I guess it’s my job to harness that and get us where we need to be (defensively).”

The team currently is competing in Kalaheo’s summer league, which also includes Castle, Saint Francis, Iolani, University High, Eastsidaz Club and the Hawaii-Select traveling all-star team, which is coached by Furtado, now the head coach at Maryknoll.

The league runs every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, with all but Eastsidaz Club playing three games a week. “No one gets a bye,” Awa said, “but it’s been exciting here. We’re in a transition period now. Our returnees and our new kids are all trying to find their place in our system. They’re getting used to it. Once we get summer league down, we’ll be able to get into our groove.”

Awa, who played at Citrus College following her prep years, was the head JV coach last season under then-head coach Neil Bowers. Bowers resigned to relocate to Germany to pursue a new career opportunity.

The varsity had a solid season under Bowers in 2012-13, winning the OIA White Conference post-season tournament. The team went 8-8 overall and earned a berth in the Division II state tournament.

With a relatively new roster, developing team unity has been among the priorities this summer, according to the coach. “High school, in general, can be cliquish. When I was in high school, my basketball teammates were my best friends – we were like sisters. Our kids don’t all run in the same circles but, to their credit, we haven’t seen cliques. There hasn’t been any finger-pointing. They’ve all been trying to work together.”

The Mustangs return to action this week with a pair of games. On Thursday, they meet University High at 8:30 p.m. On Saturday, they face Saint Francis at 7:40 p.m.

“Our offense is still trying to find its way – we’re still a little shaky – but we’re getting good looks (at the basket). The shots will eventually fall.”