Lindsay Bates and Hepuakea Falealii have both grown up with basketball siblings pushing them to greater heights.
The point guards for the Maui Interscholastic League champions - Bates, a Lahainaluna High School junior, and Falealii, a sophomore at Molokai - are the coaches' picks as The Maui News MIL Players of the Year for Division I and Division II, respectively.
Bates can simply look across the dinner table or court to see her motivating factor, twin sister Taylor, a fellow first-team All-Star.
Hepuakea Falealii helped Molokai High School reach the semifinal round of this year’s Division II state tournament.
The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo
Lindsay Bates is one of four Maui Interscholastic League first-team All-Stars from Lahainaluna, this year’s Division I state runner-up.
GLEN PASCUAL photo
"Just really blessed and hard work pays off," Lindsay Bates said at a Lunas offseason practice Tuesday at the Lahaina Civic Center. "I got player of the year and still working hard."
The twins are joined on the D-I first team by Lahainaluna's Folau Hafoka and Fiemea Hafoka - the Hafokas are not related. King Kekaulike's Brandi Carillo is the lone senior on the team.
The Lunas finished 29-2, outscored MIL opponents by an average of 75-22 and had a 23-game winning streak broken with a loss to Punahou in the state final.
"Any of my teammates could have been player of the year," said Lindsay Bates, who finished seventh on the Lunas in scoring, with 8.2 points per game. "Everybody is really tight on our team, I was one of the lucky ones that just got it."
King Kekaulike's Cy Peters is MIL D-I Coach of the Year after guiding Na Alii to the quarterfinals of the state tournament.
The rest of the D-II first team comprises Molokai's Ilana Meyer, Lanai's Dezsiree Dameg, Hana's Precious Helekahi and Seabury Hall's Allie Rudow.
"I feel very honored to know that all my hard work and commitment paid off," Falealii said. "But it wouldn't have happened without my teammates and coaches. I'm really thankful to my coaches for all the time and effort they put into coaching us every day."
Lee DeRouin is the D-II Coach of the Year after leading Molokai to the state semifinals.
Falealii's older brother, Oli Falealii, is a former MIL first-team All-Star.
"I'm really thankful for my brother, who has been my motivation," Hepuakea Falealii said. "He pushes me to everything. Anytime I feel like giving up, my brother Oli is always there by my side pushing me no matter what."
Lahainaluna took a two-week break after the state tournament, but the team is back practicing with all of the high school returnees - the only loss to graduation is Loke Basques, a second-team pick - along with players in middle school and grade school.
"You really have to be dedicated," said Lindsay Bates, who played with Falealii on the Team Aloha all-star squad last summer. "We're trying to work hard and finish what we did last year."
Lindsay Bates said not one day goes by that she and her sister do not talk about their upcoming senior season.
"It has been a hell of a year with my sister and my team, but we fell short," Lindsay Bates said. "We need to do what we're capable of to come back next year stronger."
Taylor Bates said of next season: "We just wish it was here already. That Punahou loss is going to make us hungry. We can be better, we just lose one player."
Lahainaluna coach Todd Rickard has led the Lunas to 92 MIL wins in a row, an all-sports record for the league. He said this season's team was his deepest - eight Lunas garnered at least honorable mention - but next season can be even better.
"We know that Punahou is doing this same thing," Rickard said of offseason practice. "That's what it is nowadays, all year round. Now we put all our girls together and get ready for our offseason tournaments in California, (Las) Vegas and Kona and Oahu. Just preparing our girls.
"We can definitely be better next year. I don't see how we can be any worse. I don't want to say too much, but if we don't get back to the state championship game, I know it would kill these girls."
* Robert Collias is at firstname.lastname@example.org