Solid core helps new Leile­hua bas­ket­ball coach get started

MidWeek Islander (Central Oahu) - - Front Page - By JACK DANILEWICZ

Tran­si­tion is­sues of­ten go with coach­ing changes, but that’s not the case at Leile­hua, where Pat Wet­zel steps in for Keith Spencer, who left for Saint Louis School in the off­sea­son af­ter 14 years as the Mules’ head bas­ket­ball coach.

Wet­zel was an as­sis­tant through­out Spencer’s en­tire ten­ure and was an ob­vi­ous choice for the job.

“It’s not a mat­ter of rein­vent­ing the wheel or any­thing,” said Wet­zel. “It’s the con­tin­u­a­tion of a process started by Keith. I have noth­ing but the best to say about him. He was a great men­tor, and he pre­pared me for this moment.

“I look for­ward to the op­por­tu­nity to lead our team this year. I’ve been pre­par­ing and try­ing to get our play­ers sit­u­ated and ready to go.”

The Mules can of­fi­cially be­gin prac­tice Nov. 15 with high hopes for an­other solid sea­son af­ter go­ing 10-5 last time. That in­cluded a nar­row loss to Far­ring­ton in the fifth-place game of league play­offs, which would have en­abled the Mules to ad­vance to their first state tour­na­ment since 2003.

“ It’s a good nu­cleus,” Wet­zel said of his re­turnees, who in­clude Josiah Car­avallo, Dil­lon Pauu, Xavier Adger, Stock­ton Crow­ley and Richard Cherry. Pauu and Adger were starters and are fourth-and third-year var­sity play­ers, re­spec­tively. Post player Crow­ley was the sixth man.

“Be­tween them, we have close to seven years of var­sity ex­pe­ri­ence,” Wet­zel said of Pauu and Adger.

The Mules did lose starter Brent Le­mon, who moved to Alabama, but Wet­zel is high on sev­eral JV play­ers who can move up to help fill the void.

“It’s a tough loss,” he said of Le­mon. “He’s a great kid and a great bas­ket­ball player. We have a great bunch com­ing up. We might not have a lot of star play­ers, but we’ll be deep. We’ll have good depth and kids who can give us good min­utes.”

Wet­zel’s coach­ing staff will in­clude as­sis­tants Russ Fitzger­ald, Rudy Domingo, Ger­ald Car­avallo (head JV coach) and Randy Sagon.

“Our philoso­phies are very sim­i­lar,” Wet­zel said. “We want to be sound de­fen­sively and re­bound well and make sound de­ci­sions on the of­fen­sive side and value the bas­ket­ball.

“It’s all about im­prove­ment,” he added. “(A state tour­na­ment ap­pear­ance) is al­ways the goal, but it won’t de­fine us. If we can say we’re bet­ter to­day than yes­ter­day, that’s how we’ll de­fine suc­cess.”

The Mules will open their OIA Red West slate Dec. 7 at Wa­ianae. As in past years, Leile­hua also will take part in the Merv Lopes Tour­na­ment in Manoa dur­ing a two-week break from the OIA sched­ule.

Con­tact Jack Danilewicz at jack­ster.1969@ya­

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