The original cool ‘Cat: Hoist recalls ‘camaraderie’ that cemented foundation for Konawaena basketball dynasty

  • Honolulu Star-Bulletin file photo Konawaena's Nancy Hoist scored 19 points in the 2004 HHSAA girls basketball championship game as the Wildcats beat Kahuku 51-41 for their first of nine state titles.

Nancy Hoist still has an 808 area code on her cellphone, despite living far from Hawaii for close to two decades.

She talks to her parents, Paul and Barbara Hoist, who live in Kealakekua, the birthplace of the greatest girls basketball dynasty in Hawaii.

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Before Konawaena won nine state championships and a record 10 straight BIIF titles with unbeaten records, the Wildcats needed to get over the quarterfinal hump.

After losing in the state quarterfinals in 2002 and ’03, it was Hoist, a 5-foot-10 forward, who led the way.

Hoist scored 19 points, sinking 8 of 9 free throws in the fourth quarter, and Konawaena defeated Kahuku 51-41 to capture its first state title in 2004.

In the curious case of Where is she now?, Hoist, who turned 34 on April 26, is living in Spokane, Wash., where she works as an executive assistant to the Eastern Washington University’s vice president.

She last visited the Big Island during Thanksgiving. She married Vanessa Delgado in 2014. Delgado is the multicultural center director at Eastern Washington.

They have an English bulldog named Kix, after the cereal. If they get a cat, Hoist could claim naming rights and name it Hoops or Wildcat.

“She always jokes with me that her free throw percentage is 100 percent because she never took a free throw,” Hoist said. “She never played basketball.”

Hoist played one year at Eastern Kentucky, never found a fit and spent the rest of her college career at Colorado at Colorado Springs, where she averaged 10.5 points per game during her 2008-09 senior season.

“I had a great group of teammates and found my groove there,” said Hoist, who played one season with her former Wildcat teammate Jazzmin Awa-Williams, who later led Hawaii Pacific to the West Regional.

Hoist hasn’t thought about changing her phone’s area code number. She hasn’t been on a court in ages but does watch the Eastern Washington basketball teams.

Hoist is working from home and called the campus a “ghost town” because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“All the classes have been moved online. The school is like a ghost town,” she said. “The men’s basketball team did very well and won their league. I felt bad for the players that they couldn’t play in the tournament.

“The area code number, it’s surprising that I’ve kept it. I haven’t lived in Hawaii in quite a while. It’s a great conversation starter. People love it when they find out I’m from Hawaii. Just this week, Jessica Hanato messaged me about some girls wanting to interview me for their class.

“It made me nostalgic, remembering great teammates. It was a cool time.”

The Wildcats changed their playing style after falling the state quarterfinals in 2002 and ’03, holding the ball when the got a lot lead.

“That season, 16 years ago, I still remember vividly. We were known as run and gun, outrun our opponents,” Hoist said. “There was no shot clock. I remember in our practices we had to relearn and retool that. I give a lot of credit to coach Bobbie Awa. She knew what we needed to do to adjust her coaching style.

“In order to be champions, we had to adapt. We practiced holding the ball and taking time off the clock.”

One of the biggest plays against the Red Raiders showcased Hoist’s ball-handling and passing savvy.

With 1:23 left, Hoist had the ball at the top of the key and was immediately triple-teamed. She threw a strike to Hanato, who was under the basket and she converted for a 46-41 lead.

She still remembers the photo after the game was over. It was in the Ellison Onizuka trophy case, a joyful bliss on Hoist’s face.

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But what she misses most is the bond between her teammates, players like Hanato, Awa-Williams, Hina Kimitete, and Kristin Kitaoka.

“What I miss most is that sense of camaraderie,” Hoist said. “It’s hard to replicate that feeling. You don’t realize how amazing it was at the time. You spend to much time with your teammates they become like family. I definitely miss that and the relationships.”

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