One of the most interesting boys basketball teams at the second Garden Island Invitational preseason tournament is the newest member of the Kauai Interscholastic Federation.
The KIF churns out superb athletes from Kapaa, Waimea, and the host team Kauai High School.
And this year’s 32-game tournament is no different.
Island School may have lost 83-39 in Thursday night’s contest to Hawaii Baptist, but that doesn’t make their storyline as first-year KIF members less appealing.
Island School point guard John Bancroft vacationed with his family in California last summer when he received the text he was waiting for from teammate Ethan Inanod.
Inanod’s text informed Bancroft, a member of the Voyager JV basketball team, that he would get a chance to play ball at the varsity level.
“Ethan said, ‘let’s keep on going, let’s go, and get ready,’ and my reaction to the news was ‘uh-oh, I can’t wait to play varsity basketball. It will be a great experience,’” Bancroft said. “I would have my mom take me to a court so I could practice and put up shots.’”
The Island School roster reads like that of a JV squad — not a senior on it.
The Voyagers’ varsity basketball team is entering its first season as members of the KIF competing at the varsity level.
Getting acclimated to the varsity level hasn’t been easy.
“Just seeing the crowd in a whole different atmosphere is a weird transition,” Bancroft said. “I was kind of worried about moving up because varsity is a whole new thing, and we never had varsity to my knowledge.”
Small forward Wanbli Primeaux, a JV transfer from Kapaa High, has enjoyed playing on the newly formed team.
“I have a new love, the game,” Primeaux said. “Being at the varsity level teaches yourself to push yourself to the limit.”
Inanod, who played three years of JV basketball, and in middle school at Island, said the transition was stressful.
“This game is tough and fast-paced,” Inanod said.
Feeding the demand
With interest level in basketball rising, Island School choose to join the KIF this summer, and found a coach to run things.
Matt Taba, former Waimea boys’ varsity basketball coach, returned to coaching after a hiatus.
Taba has enjoyed his time back as a head coach.
“We just had enough kids that wanted to play basketball and an exhibition JV squad the past few years, and this year we had enough kids to make the team,” Taba said.
Taba admits to being surprised at the level his kids are at in their first experience in varsity tournament play.
“Our kids are playing with a level of basketball, and intelligence, and you can tell they were coached well from their previous coach in the past,” Taba said.
Taba has embraced the challenge.
“It’s exciting and challenging, and we don’t have any seniors on the team,” Taba said. “We have a good group of coaches and kids, and that makes working with this team enjoyable.”
Island School, which joined the KIF varsity basketball ranks this summer, knew there was a need, according to Voyagers Athletic Director Jerry Jona.
In the first year as members of the KIF Taba had to modify expectations, but still has the goal every team has — winning.
“It would be a Herculean task to win the KIF, and pull that off,” Taba said. “Our goal is for the kids to improve game after game and be better than we were at the beginning of the season, and hope for our players to grow and be successful.”
Island might not win early, but this team will be an intriguing team to watch as the KIF regular season begins later this month.
Source: The Garden Island