In late October, the varsity boys basketball team began training for their upcoming season.

They spent weeks conditioning in the weight room and the gym before playing their first game of the season, which was against Lanai High School on November 17. The Eagles scored a 70-43 win over Lanai.

The new season has inspired some players to try new ways to prepare themselves. Senior point guard Ty Minatoya, who joined the team as a freshman, said, “I’m watching a lot more film on other opponents before games so I can get a full scouting report on their players and the plays they run.” At pre-season practices, the team focused on improving their defense in addition to their regular conditioning.

There are nine players on the team this year, a smaller number compared to last year’s roster of 14. The size of the roster, however, hasn’t affected the team’s passion for the game. Minatoya said, “We have a small roster, but our guys are young and talented and hungry to get better.”

Sophomore Bryson Gonzalez, a center who joined the team last season, acknowledged that the size of the team has its disadvantages, “This season the team is a little smaller than others so we do get punished and we rely heavily on our outside shots. Other than that, I think we should do very well.” 

I think the main thing I would like to accomplish is just playing our best without regrets because you can’t ask for anything else at the end of the day.

The size of the roster has helped improve the team’s chemistry, according to several team members. Junior center Chad Abarbanel said, “I think we’re really tight because there’s only nine guys, so we know each other really well.” Junior guard Micah Mitchell agreed, “Aside from our strengths skill wise, we work well together.” Mitchell was named to the ILH All-Star Division II First Team last season as a sophomore and is the Eagles’ best three-point shooter.

Skill wise, the team agrees their greatest strength is their ability to score. Minatoya said, “We have a lot of shooters who can put up a lot of points.”

The players also hope that experience will give them an edge this season as every player has had at least one year’s experience on a varsity team. Sophomore post Adam Kikuta, who joined the team last season, said, “I feel more confident. I was more nervous last year.” Gonzalez had a similar experience. He said, “Learning to cope with the level of play right now is intense, a lot more intense than JV. It was an eye opener last year, so [this year] I know what to expect.”

The only newcomer to the team is center Abarbanel, a first-year HBA student. He met most of his teammates at games prior to attending HBA, and was reacquainted with them during practices this past summer. Although he competed at the varsity level at his previous school, Kaimuki Christian School, Abarbanel said, “The competition level here is higher than I’m used to.”

Both seniors Minatoya and guard Kellen Takatsuka want to earn a state title for the team this season, which is Takatsuka’s third season and Minatoya’s fourth. Takatsuka added, “I think the main thing I would like to accomplish is just playing our best without regrets because you can’t ask for anything else at the end of the day.”

During the winter break, the team will fly to Los Angeles, California to play in the Whittier Christian tournament. They currently have a record of three wins and three losses and are scheduled to play their next game against Hanalani Schools on January 4.