Thurs­day was geared for stu­dents in grades nine through 12

The Garden Island - - Morning Briefing - Den­nis Fujimoto

KAPAA — There were only three girls in the bas­ket­ball clinic Thurs­day when Den­nis Agena and Kalakaua Bas­ket­ball wrapped up its fall break tour at the Ber­nice Hund­ley Gym on the Kapaa High School cam­pus.

“This is just like prac­tice,” said John Kane­holani, for­mer Kapaa High School bas­ket­ball coach and vol­un­teer chef for the three-day clinic. “Coach Mits Yoko­take should have had his ju­nior var­sity play­ers come out. Coach Den­nis Agena taught us some new things, too.”

The Thurs­day clinic was geared for stu­dents in grades nine through 12, a new for­mat from pre­vi­ous Agena clin­ics. Mon­day and Tues­day, Agena fo­cused his at­ten­tion to the younger bas­ket­ball play­ers in grades five through eight.

Karen Mat­sumoto of the Kauai Youth Bas­ket­ball As­so­ci­a­tion said about 65 stu­dents, in­clud­ing 18 high school play­ers took part in the three-day clinic spon­sored by the KYBA and the county’s Depart­ment of Parks and Recre­ation.

“The ad­mis­sion for this clinic is beyond ridicu­lous,” said a par­ent of one of the Honolulu play­ers who came to help Agena. “On Oahu, peo­ple pay between $350 to $400 to get into one of th­ese clin­ics.”

Mat­sumoto said it is through vol­un­teerism of peo­ple like Kane­holani, his bas­ket­ball play­ers, and the county that the pro­gram can stay af­ford­able for stu­dents.

“The Kauai Bus sched­uled a Spe­cial to ac­com­mo­date the ex­tra rid­er­ship from play­ers,” Mat­sumoto said. “And peo­ple like Un­cle John cooked lunch for all three days. The ad­mis­sion fee cov­ers the liv­ing ex­penses for Coach Agena while he’s here.”

Kiarra Pala­cio has been at­tend­ing the clin­ics for seven years.

“I’m a se­nior now,” said Pala­cio, who will be play­ing for Waimea High School un­der coach Natalie Mata. “I want to keep play­ing bas- ket­ball — even past high school. This clinic has been good, and I’ve got­ten some email in­quiries from Univer­sity of Ne­vada Las Ve­gas, and the Univer­sity of Cal­i­for­nia at Santa Cruz.”

That was an in­di­ca­tion of how bas­ket­ball play­ers par­tic­i­pat­ing in the Agena clinic come off the floor as bet­ter peo­ple, not just bet­ter bas­ket­ball play­ers.

Agena got help from Oahu play­ers Lo­gan Tanaka, a ju­nior var­sity player from Kalani High School, and Tevin Cayetano, a McKin­ley High School var­sity player who was in­volved in the state play­offs dur­ing the spring.

“Coach Agena looks for­ward to com­ing and work­ing with the Kauai youth,” Mat­sumoto said. “He’s talk­ing about do­ing this again dur­ing the spring break.”

TOP: Coach Den­nis Agena, in black, Char­lie Brown and Chasen Tu­mao­mao watch as Ki­lak­ila Hepa drives for a layup dur­ing the lunch break, Thurs­day at the Ber­nice Hund­ley Gym in Kapaa. LEFT: Coach Den­nis Agena talks with Jaliyah Casem and her mom about bas­ket­ball.

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