When the Ka’u girls basketball team goes through a stretching exercise standing side by side, the continuity is visible.
Everything lines up for Trojans.
“Everyone is even,” coach Cy Lopez said. “All the same (height).”
And for once, BIIF Division II is an even competition for Ka’u (3-2), which is proving to be ahead of the game as the only team in the division with a winning record after it beat Kohala at home Wednesday night.
With perennial powers Kamehameha and Honokaa undergoing apparent rebuilding seasons, there’s no time like the present for the Trojans to try and the reach the state tournament for the first time.
“It’s good timing. I feel very blessed,” Lopez said. “I have a lot of confidence in my team. I trust them all. It comes down to them being very coachable.”
His roster is senior-laden and is more skilled than it’s been in his seven seasons, Lopez said, and the Trojans are starting to show the poise they’ll need as they’re beating the teams they need to beat if they’re going to get where they want to go.
On Monday, they erased a halftime deficit to beat Hawaii Prep 47-41 as Mei Lin Galban Kin In, one of four senior starters, scored 10 points.
“I told the girls, if we don’t do it now, we won’t have another chance,” Lopez said. “So every game, we have to give 200 percent.”
Technically, freshman Heidi Vidal and and junior Marilou Manatan will have another chance, but the same can’t be said for nine seniors, including Kianie Mederios-Dancel, who scored 17 points in the 47-22 victory against the Cowgirls.
Vidal, who scored points 12 points against Kohala, has given the Trojans a big boost at point guard, and the other senior starters are Shanastie Hu-Blanco and Alyssa Bivings.
Along with having six children, Cy and his wife, Jennifer started a club basketball team, Hokulele, a few years ago, and the seasoning is starting to show at the varsity level. Lopez said he’s since passed on the club duties to coach Ravel Kaupu, so he could add volleyball assistant to his resume.
Beyond a state basketball tournament berth, Lopez said, “Our goal is to get that banner.”
There are no championship banners hanging at the new Ka’u gym, though the 2012 girls volleyball crown and eight-man football triumphs are commemorated at the old school gym, Lopez said.
Every game brings a new assignment for Ka’u, but the primary goal is taking care of the ball each time out, and Lopez has a sound strategy for tackling a forgiving Division II race.
“If we’re going to get beat, we have to make other teams beat us,” he said. “We can’t throw the ball away.”
The Trojans already have taken it on the chin against two of three BIIF D-I powers, Konawaena and Waiakea, and their next game is Jan. 4 at home against the other, Hilo.
“That will help us with our ball-handling because they will attack us,” Lopez said. “We’re always looking to play under pressure and they will press us like crazy.”
Mark the date Jan. 9 on the calendar: That’s when the Trojans take on Kamehameha, on the road, in a game that could decide the top seed at the BIIF tournament.
“I think everybody is looking forward to that one,” Lopez said.
They also play at Honokaa on Jan. 7. The Dragons joined Kamehameha at states last season, but they have a small roster size this season.
Ka’u last qualified for the BIIFs semifinals in 2017 before going 1-9 last year. The final four used to be the goal, but not this season.
“I don’t want to get over my head,” Lopez said, “but we’re looking pretty good.”
Everything could be lining up for Ka’u.