Student Voice of Kalaepōhaku

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Student Voice of Kalaepōhaku

The Collegian

Student Voice of Kalaepōhaku

The Collegian


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Crusader Basketball shines on Multiple Levels


There is more than just one championship-winning basketball team on the slopes of Kalaepōhaku. Last year, the D1-AA Saint Louis Basketball team brought home its first ILH D1-AA  championship in thirty-eight years. The Crusaders defeated the Kamehameha Warriors in a thrilling championship game that went to overtime. 

As the team prepares for its upcoming season, the returning players and fresh faces on the team hope that bringing home a championship will help bring out bigger crowds for this upcoming season.

The D1-AA team is quite similar to the ILH Division One team. Both teams play the same sport under the same set of rules. The D1-AA roster is larger because it is a team consisting of only juniors and seniors. The D1-AA division was originally created to give upperclassmen a second chance to make a team’s roster. However, the skill level gap has decreased over the years between D1 and D1-AA.

The biggest difference between the two divisions involves game scheduling. The Division One varsity team will play its preseason games, regular season, and ILH playoffs in hopes of making it to the HHSAA state tournament. The D1-AA team plays preseason and regular season games, finishing with the ILH playoffs. Only one varsity-affiliated team is allowed to qualify for a state tournament.

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Senior Blaize Arakawa, the returning starting point guard, is a key factor in the Crusaders’ quest to repeat as champions. Arakawa is the reigning ILH D1-AA player of the year. He always dreamt of playing basketball for Saint Louis, his father’s alma mater. After training and perfecting his craft for years, he knew that playing varsity division one was his big goal. “Yes, I have considered playing for varsity one since 7th grade,” said Arakawa. “However, God gave me the opportunity to play with a team that I will never forget and will forever be thankful for so I wouldn’t have done it any other way.”  

Last year’s D1-AA season was definitely one to remember. In their preseason, the Crusaders fared well against tough Division One opponents like Punahou and Kahuku. However, they were unable to pick up a win in their own holiday tournament, going 0-4. Head coach David O’Connor had a lot to say about the Crusaders’ efforts in that tournament. “Although we dropped all four of our games in the tournament, I believe each game was a good character building moment,” said O’Connor. “Each game was decided by five points or less. While it stung for the boys to lose in front of family and friends during the holiday season, the tough losses taught them how to close out close games.” When the regular season came around, the Crusaders went 9-2 in games decided by ten points or less.

This year’s team has the chance to accomplish tough tasks. They can become the first ILH D1-AA back-to-back champions. The Crusaders also have the chance to take down an opponent that defeated their division one counterpart. The University Lab Junior Bows defeated the Saint Louis Division One varsity team. It was an upset heard around the state. However, the D1-AA Crusaders will have the opportunity to extract “sweet revenge” for the division one team. They will meet the Junior Bows on Monday, January 8, 2024.

  The D1-AA Crusaders will need their five new juniors to step up. A junior looking to crack the rotation and make a difference on the court is Zayden Kaliko. Kaliko is a backup guard to seniors Blaize Arakawa and Hayden Hannemann. This year, he wants to apply what he learned from playing junior varsity last season. “Playing JV, helped me learn how to play with a team, not iso (isolation) ball, or play by myself, ” said Kaliko. “It helped me get better as a teammate, helped me become more coachable. I got to understand how my teammates play and I got to learn how to be coached in the Saint Louis system.”

The D1-AA Crusaders are an integral part of the Saint Louis basketball program. Without a D1-AA team, many potential hoopsters would have to sit at home and watch their peers play on TV. Having a second varsity team allows more students to participate in the sport they love. However, the D1-AA Crusaders are not playing just for exercise. They are here to win championships and they are looking to add a legacy to an ever-growing Crusader basketball program.

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