KEAAU – Jayme Carvalho has a joke about anything. Cue up the drum roll with a new transfer from Colorado: Emery Eberhard, whose dad, Brent, played for UH-Hilo back in the mid-1990s with Carvalho.
“One time, somebody is moving into Honokaa instead of moving away from Honokaa,” Carvalho joked.
The Dragons are sharpening themselves and looking to find their lineup as they host their Basketball Turkey Tournament Friday and Saturday at their school gym.
One interesting game on Friday is the matchup between Division II two-time defending champion Hawaii Prep and Division I runner-up Hilo.
Hilo senior guard Kaukahi Alameda and his fellow speedsters Mason Galima, Rayson Padilla, and RJ Solmerin will look to run against HPA’s perimeter defense of Javan Perez, KJ Walker, and Tre Walker.
“We lost seven seniors,” Carvalho said. “Right now, we’re doing all the basics, to see who can give me minutes, and we’ll go from there. We’re making improvements. Right now, we’re plugging guys in where they need to be.”
“Emery’s dad played on the Vulcans with me. You can’t teach 6 feet 4. We’re teaching the guards to get the ball inside. It’ll make the whole game easier. I need him to dominate the paint and get to the free-throw line. He came from Colorado, where he was a wing guy. He’s very coachable, and obviously we’ve got Isaac (Jardine).”
Jardine was an All-BIIF Division II first-team pick. He’s a forward who can defend, run the floor and score from a variety of spots. But Carvalho likes his versatility.
“He’s like a utility player. If you take somebody out, he can cover a position he normally doesn’t play,” Carvalho said. “It’s very valuable for a coach with substitutions. You’re not losing your best guy when you move him to another spot on the floor.”
The Dragons will be playing in a string of tournaments. This week, they’re at home. Next week, it’s an Oahu trip. Then it’s the St. Joseph Classic.
The coaching staff will look for comfortable player combinations and those who excel on both sides of the ball.
“The next few weeks, we’ll let the progression happen,” Carvalho said. “Everyone will do their own pecking order. You can’t pick it as a coach. If the kids do it that way, they’ll believe in me if you let the pecking order happen naturally.”
Seven Dragons (Jardine, Kalai Ahuna, Chylou Nobriga-Guerpo, Warren Tabucbuc, Jahsaiah Yoshizumi, Justin Pascua, and Diesel Martinez) played football. The weight training should help them on the boards.
Honokaa has always been one of the league’s best rebounding teams. It’s ball-handling that’s been an issue in the past.
The Dragons had a whopping 29 turnovers in a 71-41 loss to Kohala in the BIIF semifinals. The Cowboys were also able to break Honokaa’s full-court press.
At the Keaau/Waiakea tournament last week, Kealakehe ran a pick-and-roll clinic against Honokaa, which was missing Jardine, Ahuna and a couple of other starters.
“That’s something we need to work on,” Carvalho said. “Every time we went over the top, we shut them down. When we went under and were lazy, they had a seal inside and a big man against a guard.
“When something happens, we’ll work on that. No. 1 for us is rebounding and turnovers, taking care of the ball. I need more shots, and you can get more shots by getting fewer turnovers. We’re trying to explain to the kids how important every possession is.”
Hans Caronan, a senior guard, received All-BIIF honorable mention last year. He’ll run the point, along with Ahuna, who draws high praise from his coach.
“I don’t think there’s anybody as athletic as him at that position,” he said. “If Kalai can take care of the ball and get to his spots, he’s hard to defend, especially with the hand-check rule and how referees are making calls now. He puts a lot of pressure on other guys’ defense to recover and constantly recover because he creates mismatches.”
Under Carvalho, Honokaa’s style has always been rebound, press and run. The Dragons have a big who can pair with Jardine to provide half-court offense, a key in the slowdown play during the postseason.
“Isaac is one of the best players on the island. If we were in the championship, he would have been the player of the year,” Carvalho said. “Like I told the kids, we have to work together for a common goal and then you get what you want or deserve. The first thing is working together.
“Emery can shoot the ball inside and outside. He’s coming into the brotherhood and ohana. He’s making a nice transition, and I’m glad to have him here.”
Game 1: St. Joseph vs. Kealakehe, 1 p.m.
G2: Hawaii Prep vs. Hilo, 3 p.m.
G3: Parker vs. Kamehameha, 5 p.m.
G4: Honokaa vs. Keaau, 7 p.m.
G5: L1 vs. L2, 9 a.m.
G6: L3 vs. L4, 10:30 a.m.
G7: W1 vs. W2, 12 p.m.
G8: W3 vs. W4, 1:30 p.m.
Seventh place: L5 vs. L6, 3 p.m.
Fifth: W5 vs. W6, 4:30 p.m.
Third: L7 vs. L8, 6 p.m.
First: W7 vs. W8, 7:30 p.m.