KALAHEO — The keiki weren’t going to be able to play.
But following some discussion between the county’s Aaron Uyeda and Mark Ozaki of the Kaua‘i Police Activities League, youth basketball opened its month-long season at the Kalaheo Neighborhood Center.
This Saturday marks the “trophy day” for the season as basketball players end their season with another day of hoops at both the Kalaheo and Kilauea neighborhood centers.
Uyeda said his office received a number of phone calls after parents discovered there wasn’t going to be a program for the children. Those calls prompted him to meet with Ozaki to hammer out details for a “last-minute” program so the kids could play basketball.
Athletes from 5-6, 7-8, and 9-10 age groups took to the courts for four periods of 6-minute running time games on Saturdays starting in early April and concluding this Saturday.
Players in the 5-6 and 7-8 age group play on a shortened court while the 9-10 division players utilize the full court.
One of the highlights of the program in Kilauea is the matchup between a senior citizen team battling with the youngsters, said Ozaki. Those games took place around 10 a.m.
Bill Troutman, one of the leaders at the Kilauea site said there are hundreds of young players from the Eastside and North Shore who turned out for the program that is in its second year under the auspices of KPAL in Kilauea.
Troutman said in addition to the Saturday games, community coaches also work around a schedule of practices at the Kilauea Neighborhood Center and throughout the month. The gym has been echoing with the sound of basketballs as the young players hone their skills between 4 and 6 p.m.
For the final day, Troutman said he has organized a goodwill tournament for the Kilauea players. In Kalaheo, the games will run in the format it has for the season with awards being distributed at the end.
At last weekend’s contest in Kalaheo, Waimea High School JV coach Bobby Kamakele brought out his staff to help with the officiating as his assistant coach Pedro Saligumba worked with JV player Kori Sakamoto and JV manager Jayme Jacinto, an eighth-grader at Waimea Canyon School, to officiate the 9-10 contests.
In that game, Annie Bal-lesteros and Casey Arashiro broke open a 0-0 first quarter stalemate for the yellow-shirted girls from Lihu‘e who were pitted against the Papalina Rough Riders coached by Clyde Vito.
Noah Sasil answered for the Rough Riders, and despite a 3-point bomb from outside the arc, the yellowshirts prevailed 16-7.
Joining Ballesteros and Arashiro, who finished with 4 points, Lihu‘e, coached by Kevin Hanano, got buckets from Pili Chung, Sariah Ijima (whose sister Krystal played for the Kaua‘i High School varsity), Kawai Calderon and Lele Silva.
Papalina got scores from Ho‘okano, Sasil and a bucket from Kai Lewis in the win.