Honolulu hoops hits the Garden Isle

KAPAA — Ryan Laborte, 11, of Kapaa bought new basketball shoes for the Agena and Kalakaua Basketball clinic which opened Thursday at the Bernice Hundley Gym in Kapaa.

“This is awesome,” said Laborte, who was taking in his first clinic. “I learned how to do the crossover, which is dribbling the basketball between your legs.”

Laborte was among the 70 students at the clinic led by Dennis Agena of Honolulu and representatives of Kalakaua Basketball.

“This is unreal,” said Karen Matsumoto of the Kauai Youth Basketball Association, host of the clinic. “On Oahu, there are more than 100 kids who take in the clinic. We are fortunate to have coach Agena help our kids. He even pays his own airfare and car to get here.”

Agena said Kauai has some good basketball players.

“They need to practice the repetition of these skills to get better,” he said. “The players like playing, but don’t work on improving their skills.”

Marissa Martinez, a junior at Kauai High School, said she’s attended the clinics for four years.

“Attending the clinics helped me get better,” said Martinez, a guard for the Red Raiders. “I have seen improvement in my shot and ball handling skills. I have to keep practicing, though.”

Lila Hearn, a Kapaa sophomore, said the clinic was very good.

“I like how everyone learns ball handling,” Hearn said. “Everybody needs to learn ball handling, not just the guards. I think the clinics have made me faster and quicker on the court. And, best of all, it’s fun.”

Melia Okura of Waimea High School, agreed.

“It’s good,” said Okura, who has been attended the clinics for six years. “It’s really intense, and attending the clinics has helped me get back to the season. Plus, you get to meet a lot of good people.”

John Kaneholani, coach of the Kapaa basketball team, said learning from Agena was a great experience.

“He is an incredible man,” Kaneholani said. “I always tell the boys, they need to learn the skills, and coach Agena has taught some of the basketball greats.”

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