Top Performers
Waterford, Grover led Spartans, Warriors to league titles




Female Athlete of the Week: Ameera Waterford, Seabury Hall basketball
All season long Ameera Waterford has been laser-focused on completing some unfinished business.

Ever since her Seabury Hall team came up one win short of its first-ever girls basketball state title last year, Waterford has worked toward a singular goal: win it all.

The 5-foot-5 senior point guard helped the Spartans punch their ticket to this week's Snapple/HHSAA Division II State Championships with a couple of sterling performances in last week's Maui Interscholastic League tournament at Molokai.

Waterford scored 24 points in a 75-22 rout of Hana in Thursday's semifinal round and matched that scoring effort in Friday's 51-33 win over Lanai in the title game.

Spartans' second-year coach Keone Labuanan spoke first about Waterford's defensive awareness when reflecting on the skill set of the four-year starter.

"I think her defensive length is big for us being only 5-5, but her arms are surprisingly long and she's pretty quick," Labuanan said.

Waterford's track and field background as a sprinter and hurdler helps in that regard, he added.

"She's quick and she's shifty and her outside, perimeter shooting is a lot better this year, that's why I think she's doing so well this year, but I think her defense turns to offense a lot of times; she gets a lot of steals and she's the head of our press, which really causes a lot of panic in the backcourt," Labuanan said.

It's not as though she did poorly by any stretch of the imagination as a junior last year, when she was tabbed as league D2 Player of the Year by The Maui News. But Waterford's offseason work on the offensive aspects of her game have certainly been reflected, if not in her production, than at least in her confidence.

"I think she's way more confident shooting the three-ball and that's why I think her scoring average went up this year, because she's willing to take it and she just let's it fly now," Labuanan said.

Waterford, along with fellow senior and 6-foot-1 post Anau Tuivai — who herself won league Player of the Year honors as a freshman and sophomore — have helped Seabury Hall claim the MIL D2 crown in each of the last four seasons.

The pair have worked well together, to say the least.

"They're our only two seniors and I think it's a great dynamic. When one is not really bringing the energy, the other one is right there to pick everyone up, so they complement each other very well and on the court our offense runs a lot better when they're working off of one another," Labuanan said.

Last year's team reached the state final, but ultimately fell short against Hawaii Baptist. Still, it was the highest finish in program history.

That is, unless Waterford and the Spartans can rewrite that this week.

Seabury Hall is the No. 2 seed in the 12-team tournament, which gets underway Wednesday afternoon at the Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium in Hilo.

Labuanan said the loss to HBA last year has fueled the fire of this year's squad.

"Oh, for sure. They didn't show it at first that they really wanted it that much after the game, but they definitely came back in offseason training and really took it serious. They wanted to practice better, they wanted to be in better condition to try and do as much as they can to get back to that point this year," he said.

Waterford has set the tone with her actions and led by example.

"It's nothing to take away from other returnees, because they're playing great this year, too, but I think she's on a mission and she really wants to win this title," Labuanan said. "She's making it a point to give her 100 percent day-in and day-out and midseason we really had a big talk about holding accountability for every practice and how much effort you put in and her, including rest of the returnees, have really responded to it. She really took the leadership role a lot better this year being a floor general.

Labuanan said that although he tries to get Waterford some rest here and there, she never wants to come out of games. If she's not keeping busy with basketball or track, Waterford is usually prioritizing her time between her academic workload.

Earlier this season, she missed two games while traveling to Texas for a scholarship interview.

"She went up the University of Houston and is among the finalists for a big-time National Merit scholarship award, so she's waiting on that," Labuanan said of Waterford, who hopes to pursue a degree in law.

"The parents said that changes every week. It's funny because her dad is a heart and vein surgeon and her mom is a pediatrician, but she wants to be a lawyer, I think," said Labuanan, who has enjoyed many interesting conversations during the sometimes arduous road trips in the MIL.

"To me the biggest difference is her maturity level. We get a lot of driving time or waiting in airports and our talks are very good because she's very mature for her age," he said.

Waterford and the Spartans (14-0), who are ranked 10th in this week's ScoringLive/Hawaiian Electric Power Rankings, have a first-round bye and will open against either HBA or Hawaii Prep in a 5 p.m. quarterfinal Thursday at the Hilo Civic.

Information from The Maui News and reporter Rob Collias was used in this report.

Male Athlete of the Week: John Grover, Waiakea soccer
Waiakea boys soccer coach David Urakami couldn't have scripted a more fitting end to John Grover's final league game last Saturday.

Grover, both a starter and a team captain throughout his four years of high school, led the Warriors to their first Big Island Interscholastic Federation championship since 2006 with a hat trick in a 3-2 win over Hilo in double overtime.

The 5-foot-9, 160-pound Grover scored twice in a minute-span late in the second half to even the score and then netted the game-winning goal in the second extra period.

Urakami, who has led the program since 2009, said players like Grover don't tend to come around too often.

"Very rare, but he's always the type of player that wants to be the one to put everyone on his back," said Urakami, who selects the team captains himself.

"He really fell into that right away. For John, this is something that we were waiting for and planned from his freshman year, for him to just blow up and to get state-wide recognition, so it's cool to see that it happened the way that we planned."

Grover certainly stood out in the biggest game-to-date for the Warriors this season, but he didn't do it alone. All three of his goals were assisted and came only after he moved forward from his regular defensive-midfield position.

"We put him in attacking mode and that's what put us over the edge and took us to the title," Urakami said.

Grover's first goal — a header — tied the score at 1-all with about 12 minutes left in the second half and came off of a restart. A Hilo foul near midfield allowed Colby Kerr to serve a pass near the top of the 18-yard box that took a high bounce.

"The goalkeeper came up and John was right there to flick it over the goalie," Urakami explained.

About a minute later, the Warriors struck for the go-ahead goal. This time Kai Biegler sent a crossing pass to the right side, where Grover connected on a solid one-timer into the back of the net.

"The players worked it down and that goal out of the three goals, that was the meanest goal — it banged just below the top bar," Urakami said.

Hilo evened the score with just 52.8 seconds left in regulation, but Grover and the Warriors kept pushing until his golden goal off another set piece.

Javier Cuevas booted a corner kick to the far post, where Kai Biegler headed the ball over the the goalkeerp to Grover, who completed the hat trick with a header into the goal.

Grover had just re-entered the game after muscle cramps in his legs forced him to miss much of the second OT period.

"Amazing," Urakami recalled in awe. "John and the team in general showed that they will never give up and I'm just proud of those guys."

Urakami said the Warriors are still on cloud nine after the title-clinching win Saturday, which was held at Hawaii Prep's Waimea campus.

"It was actually, nobody really realized it until on the bus ride back home that we won the championship," Urakami said. "I think even until now it's still settling in people's minds that we actually did it, so it's a pretty awesome place to be, but unfamiliar."

A turning point in the season came when Urakami moved Grover from his original wing position to a more defensive one.

"He's scored quite a bit of goal, but halfway through the season we did a change of lineup. He was our left attacker and then we moved him back to sweep, which created a different dynamic for our team. We became more tenacious and became more of a team — because everyone knows John here and they would make sure they covered John so that he didn't do well — so moving him back opened up aspects for us to attack and to defend, so it made us more unpredictable," Urakami said.

Urakami admitted that at first Grover didn't take to the proposed position change all that well, but he quickly came around to it.

"It was just a simple conversation just explaining to him why we're making the change. He said, ‘okay, as long as this is for the team,' (but) at first he didn't really want to (move) because he's a goal scorer, but that's why it was so awesome for him to have the game he did against Hilo," Urakami said.

No matter where he is on the pitch, Grover brings the same tenacity and competitiveness he showed as a freshman four years ago.

"He's very passionate, he's very aggressive and very knowledgable. I wouldn't say selfish, but his main focus is to win," Urakami said.

It's not exactly the same demeanor he carries with him off the field.

"Off the field he's not the alpha male, he actually will disappear into the crowd. He's a gentleman, he's respectful, he's a good guy, but on the field he's a total different person," Urakami said. "He has a good heart and people acknowledge that and they listen to him not because of how he says things, but what he does. Off the field he's a perfect model student and a respectful person and on the field he's just a tenacious person and I think a lot of people respect that. It's not common to have a freshman be a captain, but he demanded respect, again, not because of what he said, but how he acted."

Grover and the Warriors (10-2-1), who are ranked ninth in this week's ScoringLive/Hawaiian Electric Power Rankings, will have a first-round bye in next week's Queen's Medical Center/HHSAA Division I State Championships.

Waiakea is the No. 3 seed in the 12-team tournament and will open against either Kalaheo or Iolani in a 3 p.m. quarterfinal at the Waipio Peninsula Soccer Complex main stadium on Feb. 13.

Information from the Hawaii Tribune-Herald and reporter Matt Gerhardt was used in this report.


BOYS BASKETBALL
Austin Alana, Le Jardin — Scored 20 points in a loss to University Lab

Dylan Ball, Aiea — Scored 22 points, including three 3-pointers, in a loss to Nanakuli

Mason Broyles, Waimea — Scored 20 points in a loss to Kauai

Frank Camacho, McKinley — Scored 17 points with three rebounds and two steals in a loss to Kalaheo

O'shen Cazimero, Kohala — Scored 27 points in a win over Keaau

Keanu Chambrella, Lanakila Baptist — Scored 18 points in a win over Assets

Oscar Cheng, Kahuku — Scored 25 points with 13 rebounds, two steals, two blocks and one assist in a win over Kalani

Malu Cleveland, Kaimuki — Scored 21 points in a win over Anuenue

Shadrach Coleman, Saint Louis II — Scored 18 points,  including three 3-pointers, in a loss to Kamehameha II

Jim Ehia, Kauai — Scored 18 points in a win over Waimea

Lokana Enos, Kahuku — Scored 14 points with 12 rebounds, three steaks and two assists in a win over Kalani

Ethan Escobido, Hanalani — Scored 17 points in a win over Le Jardin

Justin Faidley, Kapaa — Scored 20 points in a win over Waimea

Bryce Forbes, Damien — Scored 20 points with nine rebounds in a loss to Kamehameha

Clayton Fung, Keaau — Scored 18 points in a loss to Kohala

Therial Grover, Radford — Scored 20 points in a win over Waipahu

Jake Holtz, Damien — Scored 19 points in a loss to Maryknoll

Landyn Jumawan, Leilehua — Scored 20 points in a win over Kapolei

Elijah Kahue-Parker, Mid-Pacific — Scored 17 points in a loss to Punahou

Jayden Kipapa, Mililani — Scored 17 points, including five 3-pointers, in a win over Campbell

Andrew Kobayashi, Punahou — Scored 18 points in a win over Mid-Pacific

Kamana Lapina, Mid-Pacific — Scored 18 points in a loss to Punahou and scored 24 points in a win over Saint Louis

Andrew Lu, Island Pacific — Scored 26 points in a win over Hawaiian Mission

Elijah McGruder, Moanalua — Scored 18 points in a win over Kailua

Zelston Militante, Nanakuli — Scored 23 points in a win over Aiea

Aiden Munden, Waialua — Scored 20 points in a win over Waianae

Kordel Ng, Kamehameha — Scored 24 points in a win over Iolani

Duke Nojima, Castle — Scored 11 points with 10 rebounds, two blocks and one steal in a loss to Kalaheo

Ken Ogihara, Christian Academy — Scored 17 points in a win over Hawaiian Mission

Nathaniel Okamoto, Aiea — Scored 21 points in a loss to Campbell

Sky Okamura, Christian Academy — Scored 18 points in a loss to Lanakila Baptist and scored 23 points, including three 3-pointers, in a win over Hawaiian Mission

Rayson Padilla, Hilo — Scored 18 points in a win over Keaau

Nainoa Peters, Kailua — Scored 26 points in a win over Farrington and scored 19 points in a loss to Moanalua

Rodger Phillips, Island Pacific — Scored 18 points in a win over Hawaiian Mission

Wade Pimsaguan, Waimea — Scored 21 points in a loss to Kauai

Joshua Ponce, Waipahu — Scored 19 points in a win over Pearl City

Nikolas Robben, Maryknoll — Scored 18 points, including four 3-pointers, in a win over Saint Louis and scored 20 points in a win over Damien

Rico Sadoy, Waialua — Scored 17 points in a win over Waianae

Kody Seguancia, Roosevelt — Scored 17 points, including three 3-pointers, in a win over Kaiser

Ikaika Starkey, Aiea — Scored 17 points, including three 3-pointers, in a loss to Campbell

Christmas Togiai, Kamehameha — Scored 18 points with eight rebounds, two assists and two steals in a win over Damien

Sage Tolentino, Maryknoll — Scored 17 points in a win over Punahou

Fuafiva Tulafale, Waipahu — Scored 19 points in a loss to Radford

Deltha Viena, Pearl City — Scored 24 points in a loss to Waipahu and scored 19 points in a win over Nanakuli

Rodney Villanueva, Radford — Scored 17 points, including five 3-pointers, in a win over Waialua

Drake Watanabe, Roosevelt — Scored 23 points, including five 3-pointers, in a win over Kaiser and scored 18 points in a loss to McKinley

Amari Westmoreland-Vendiola, Kahuku — Scored 19 points with three rebounds and one assist in a loss to Kaiser


GIRLS BASKETBALL
Keirstyn Agonias, Hilo — Scored 18 points with seven rebounds and one steal in a loss to Waiakea

Angel Asaah, Radford — Scored 19 points in a loss to Mililani

Maya Claytor, Kahuku — Scored 18 points, including five 3-pointers, in a win over Moanalua

Kelsie Imai, Waiakea — Scored 21 points with six rebounds, two assists and one steal in a win over Hilo

Caiyle Kaupu, Konawaena — Scored 19 points with six rebounds, two blocks, one block and a steal in a win over Keaau

Lily Letofu Wahinekapu, Iolani — Scored 25 points in a win over Maryknoll

Arriana Maltezo, Lanai — Scored 16 points in a win over Molokai

Dominique Pacheco, Kamehameha-Hawaii — Scored 12 points with 11 steals, six assists and four rebounds in a win over Kohala and scored 15 points with five assists, three rebounds, one steal and a block in a win over Hawaii Prep

Kaliana Salazar-Harrell, Konawaena — Scored 23 points with five rebounds, two assists and two steals in a win over Keaau

Sarah Schubert, Kamehameha-Hawaii — Scored 19 points with 10 rebounds and two steals in a win over Kohala and scored 13 points with 15 rebounds, one assist and one steal in a win over Hawaii Prep

Shaylen Tatupu-Timu, Farrington — Scored 16 points, including four 3-pointers, with three rebounds, two assists, two steals and a block in a win over Campbell


BOYS SOCCER
Travis Brubaker, Kalani — Scored two goals in a win over Radford and scored a goal and assisted on another in a win over Kaiser

Masen Cook, Pearl City — Scored the lone goal in a win over Kahuku

Jvon Cunningham, Mililani — Scored two goals in a win over Pearl City

Dixon Davis, Kalaheo — Scored two goals in a win over Pearl City

Elijah Gusta, Moanalua — Scored the lone goal in a win over Campbell

Luke Hamocon, Kamehameha — Scored two goals in a win over Punahou

Hunter Hoogenwerf, Kapolei — Scored two goals in a win over Kailua

Mason Hunt, Hawaii Prep — Scored the lone goal in a win over Konawaena

Eugene Kim, McKinley — Scored two goals in a win over Waialua

Jack Lemonds, Kalaheo — Scored two goals in a loss to Kaiser

Tommy Mascaro-Keahi, Kapolei — Scored three goals in a win over Kalani

Kelly Takara, Aiea — Scored two goals in a win over Waipahu

Skye Ventura-Kahookele, Aiea — Scored two goals in a win over Castle


GIRLS SOCCER
Jasmine Semblante, Waimea — Scored two goals in a win over Honokaa



Reach Kalani Takase at [email protected].


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