LAHAINA - In all of his 28 years as the leader of the West Maui Youth Basketball League, Don Rosenthal had never received a more memorable or valuable comment than he received during a Tiny Mite (age 5-7) Division game he officiated two weeks ago.
As Rosenthal handed the ball over to the Pistons' Chelsea Ramos to inbound to begin play, he asked the five-year-old, 2'10" power forward if she liked basketball.
"Yes I do," the kindergartner replied. "I want to be a Lady Luna!"
West Maui Youth Basketball League Commissioner Don Rosenthal said game days were fun for the players and their families. Photos by Denton Johnson.
As in Lahainaluna High School Lady Luna, the eight-time defending Maui Interscholastic League girls basketball champions, with four consecutive state tournament final four appearances and a state championship in 2010 - the first Neighbor Island school to do so.
With a 73-victory regular season winning streak, an MIL all sport record, the Lady Lunas have thus set a golden standard of success not only here on Maui but all across the State of Hawaii, which has been a keystone in the development of the high level of cohesiveness and community self-esteem here on the West Side of the Valley Isle.
This is the value of programs like Lahainaluna and the WMYBL and their dedicated, veteran leaders such as Lady Luna coach Todd Rickard and Rosenthal. For in organizing youth and championship high school athletic programs that propagate sportsmanship and ethics, these community leaders set a pathway for success not only for the kids involved, but for their families as well.
For the 500-plus boys and girls involved in the WMYBL, the 2012 season will climax this Saturday, March 10, with the 28th annual All-Star Saturday event sponsored by Leilani's on the Beach restaurant.
This day celebrates and honors the kids, coaches, the families and all of the supporters of the league with all-star contests for each of the three divisions and special award presentations.
The Tiny Mite (age 5-7) game will tip off at 9:30 a.m., the Peewee (age 8-10) contest begins at 11 a.m., and the feature contest for the Midget (age 11-14) Division starts at 12:30 p.m. "Sportsman of the Year" and "Coach of the Year" presentations will take place at half-time of each contest.
For the Tiny Mite Division, the East team will be coached by Krim Kenolio of the Magic. Players include Kahanu Viitala and Cash Palma of the Lakers, Tasi Uhila and Ka'ili Casco from the Rainbows, Gielyn Angel Camagay and Walker Swsarek representing the Blazers, Joshua McKinney and Bryan Deguzman of the Clippers, Kobe Gonzales of the Pistons, and Keaialuia Medeiros, Kasen Gordon and Shawn Malacas from the Magic.
The Tiny Mite West team, guided by Harry Flores of the Timberwolves, includes James Johnson of the Rebels; Mathew Iverson from the Knicks; Gabriel Tello and Nephi Hong representing the Bulls; Kade Cunningham of the Hawks; Kala'i Yap, Jimmy Falk, Dylan Falk and Asa Howard from the Celtics; and Vincent Iwamura, Cameron Watson and Anthony Felice representing the Timberwolves.
In the Peewee Division, the East squad will be coached by Andy Alavazo from the Knicks. His player roster will be made up of A.J. Bianco of the Rainbows; Leroy Taukeiaho of the Timberwolves; Kauahie Baricuatro from the Knicks; Christian Salmon and Viliami Hafoka representing the Hawks; Miki Tufuga and Ilaisaane Hafoka of the Celtics; Taj Falconer, Stu Freeman and Gunner Locke from the Bulls; and Etuati Storer and Dwayne Kalikane of the Knicks.
The Peewee West team led by Mike Bates will include Joshua Calaoagan of the Pistons; Juztin Gaoiran and Zarian Luis from the Rockets; Cash McCall and Dylan Lewis representing the Lakers; Kai Casco of the Rebels; Sione Faongia, Sheldon "The Flyer" Frias and Susi Namoa from the Blazers; and Ikaika Viela, Nyles Waiohu and Ty "The Enforcer" Bates of the Magic.
In the Midget Division, the East squad is coached by Ray Lasco. The roster is made up of Anis Bel, Justin Dagupion and Brielle McKinney representing the Timberwolves; Max Becerra and Kawika Sanchez from the Blazers; Matini Perlas-Kaai and Clydell Manuel of the Pistons; and Justin Valdez, Dakota Leverett, Izaak Domingo, Pono Murray and Laka Rosenthal from the Hawks.
The West team will be guided by Derrick Akamine from the Lakers, and the player roster includes Nau Liliai, Sione Lauese and Lalelei Mataafa of the Magic; Lucas Elliot, Kyle Shultz and Parker Welck from the Knicks; Bryan Burgos, Micah Akamine and Ka'ala Wales representing the Lakers; and Tavake Faleta, Jake Cohen and Sebastian Martinez from the Celtics.
"I would like to thank the entire West Maui community; my wife, Phyllis; and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for their support and continuing this league. I could tell that all the kids and their families had a good time, and the game days were a happy time for everyone," Rosenthal said.
"It is really nice to see that everyone is on board with our objectives to bring sportsmanship and ethics to youth sports here in Lahaina. I am certainly pleased with the pathway that is being built up to the high school program at Lahainaluna. I think this is all good for the community," da commish concluded.
And mahalo to you, Don, for another tremendous season of hoops for our West Side youth.