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Warriors enjoyed Maui; Maui enjoyed Warriors

For one night, Maui was no ka oi for the Hawaii basketball team.

The Warriors made a rare trip to a neighbor island for a “home” game on Friday, and it resulted in a convincing 86-57 victory over Chicago State at the Lahaina Civic Center.

Hawaii head coach Gib Arnold is in his first season with the Warriors, so the concept of playing a regular-season game on a neighbor island was in the works before he got hired. However, he said he would like to see it become an annual event, perhaps with the Big Island and Kauai as options as well.

“The idea of coming to a neighbor island, I think is a great idea,” he said. “We really enjoyed it. I enjoyed playing in front of a new crowd, and I thought the crowd was fabulous. They were in the game and they were knowledgeable and it was a lot of fun for our guys.”

The Lahaina Civic Center is not exactly a central location for Maui residents, but around 1,000 of them showed up for the game.

Doug Swaney and his family drove more than one hour to get from Upcountry to Lahaina. He brought his wife, Aimee, daughter Autumn, and sons Elijah, Ian and Caleb.

“Worth it,” Swaney said of the cross-island drive. “Thanks to the people that made this happen. Kudos to them … this is something that Maui needs.”

Brothers Destin and Daniel Olaso from Wailuku attended the game with their parents. Destin, 17, is an avid Hawaii basketball fan, so he had been anticipating the game for months for the chance to see Bill Amis and Joston Thomas in person.

“We never get to see UH sports on Maui, so it’s pretty exciting for them to come over here,” he said.

The Olaso brothers even bought souvenir basketballs at the game so that they could seek autographs after the game.

The Warriors were also grateful fot the opportunity, especially since they got to spend two nights in the posh Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa. Their only complaint was that the trip was too short.

“It was fun – we got to see another island and got a win out of it,” junior guard Zane Johnson said.

The Warriors basically had about one hour of free time on Maui – early on Saturday morning (the day after the game) before they returned to Honolulu. Most of the players elected to sleep in, but Johnson, freshman Bo Barnes and director of operations Scott Fisher made the short walk to nearby Ka’anapali Beach, where they jumped off a rock cliff, similar to the one at Waimea Bay on Oahu.
“It’s a little higher than it looks once you get up there,” Johnson said. “It was fun.”

1 Comment

  1. This Big Island fan thinks it would be great if the men’s team could visit Hilo and play at the Afook-Chinen auditiorium. The Wahine basketball team played here last night and drew a spirited 600 or so fans. It was quite a lopsided loss to UCLA, but the crowd cheered on, nevertheless, and everyone had a good time.

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