LAHAINA - The years fly by like a speedy fast break, but Lahainaluna High School boys basketball coach John Dudley maintains an acute focus on the game he has mentored for ten years on the varsity level of the Maui Interscholastic League.
Coach Dudley spent five successful years at Seabury Hall before moving over to the Lunas team in 2008. He has continued to send highly competitive lineups onto the court in his five years at Lahainaluna, and the upcoming season will see more of the same.
Along with assistants Nick Webb, Alec Austin, Iolani Kaniho, John Ibuos and Dan Williams, Dudley welcomed a talented, tough squad back to the practice court a month ago, as the Lunas will move forward in hopes of improving upon last year's 18-10 overall record and third place MIL finish.
The team includes (from left): front — Joshua Corpuz, Marvin Sidon, Will Thorbecke, Renzo Corpuz and Nick Vierra; back row — Scotty Medeiros Tangatailoa, Zac Carlton, Kalolani Kaaikala, Peni Taufa, Pousima Galoia, Cyrus Kama, Ryan Madera, Kiko Kohler Fonohema, Josh Chapital and Brandon Agapay.
A group of eight student athletes from the Lahainaluna roster attended a two-month AAU summer camp in Reno, Nevada, that focused on fundamentals, and these players will lead the charge to unseat Baldwin and King Kekaulike at the top of the MIL ladder.
According to Coach Dudley, the Lunas will be a quick team that will also be very physical. He noted that the addition of several standouts from the football team will give his team a marked toughness on the hardwood.
"We've had some very competitive practices since the football boys came over after their season ended. They bring a winning attitude to the team that is noticeably contagious," he said.
Leading the way for the Lunas will be co-captains Nick Vierra, a senior, and junior Marvin Sidon, as well as senior lettermen Brandon Agapay, Joshua Corpuz, Pousima Galoia and Kiko Kohler Fonohema.
Junior returnees include Peni Taufa, Josh Chapital, Cyrus Kama, Ryan Madera, Kalolani Kaaikala, Renzo Corpuz, Scotty Medeiros Tangatailoa, Zac Carlton and Will Thorbecke.
"We lack consistency at times, but we just tell the boys to try to get one percent better each day, and then we'll be okay," said Dudley last week from the sparkling Lahaina Civic Center floor.
"We'll be able to go ten deep and maintain a quality lineup on the floor - we're not afraid to go to the bench because we've always had the talent. And now the football guys have brought on a competitiveness to the team, and we all get better."
"We've taken a page from the success of Todd's (Rickard) program here at Lahainaluna, and we'll use a full-court, man-to-man defense and put pressure on the ball all the time," he continued. "On offense, we'll use a flex, spread attack to the basket," he continued.
"Working with the menehune and youth programs here in Lahaina, I think we're headed in the right direction to build a competitive high school team... And, like all the teams at Lahainaluna, we benefit from the best fan support in the state. It's always exciting to see the full house backing we get from this community," Coach Dudley concluded.
The Lunas will open up MIL play on Dec. 27 and continue with three rounds of games against Baldwin, Maui High, King Kekaulike and Kamehameha Maui through mid-February and into the post-season tournaments.