During a visit on April 20, Gov. Neil Abercrombie stopped by the Honokaa High School gym to recognize the Honokaa girls basketball team, presenting each player with a certificate.
On Feb 8, the Honokaa girls basketball team won the state championships for the Hawaii High School Athletic Association Division II, defeating Kamehameha-Hawaii 54-35 in the Neil Blaisdell Center on Oahu. The girls were the first team to win a state championship from Honokaa.
Cheyenne Meyer, assistant coach, said he had been helping to coach the girls for about 20 years, though he left in 2007, then returned again this season with Honokaa coach Daphne Honma.
“We didn’t know what to expect,” Meyer said of his return. “But we got a great reception. That is a testament to them. They deserve all of the credit.”
Meyer said the strength of the team was that the girls shared the ball with each other.
“It didn’t matter who was in the spotlight, these kids did not have the ‘me’ disease; they had the ‘we’ disease,” Meyer said.
Coach Honma agreed.
“It took a team effort,” Honma said. “They were really coachable. They believed in each other; they played for each other. It was truly a group effort.”
Honma said they would only lose four players to graduation – Hunter Liftee, who will attend Arizona Western, Chancis Fernandez, who was recruited by UH-Hilo as a walk-on, Shereena Bird who will be joining the Marine Corps and Shemika Frazier, who is undecided.
Since their win, Mayor Billy Kenoi, Sen. Malama Solomon and Councilwoman Valerie Poindexter have also recognized the team.
Honma said that at the beginning she has her players list their hopes and goals for the season, then they work each game to reach them. She said that by playing basketball, the girls are learning life skills they can take with them – perseverance, ”If we can do these things, then the winning takes care of itself,” Honma said.
Honma also helps to work with area sixth, seventh and eighth grade basketball players through the County Parks and Recreation from Paauilo, Honokaa and Waimea, so the players are prepared when they get to high school.
“They are more than welcome to show up,” Honma said of the young athletes. She said she welcomes any middle school girls interested in basketball to join her. For more information, call Honma at Honokaa High School at 775-8800, ext. 295 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.