POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Jun 05, 2011
LAST UPDATED: 08:26 p.m. HST, Jun 05, 2011
Lahainaluna Basketball GPA: 3.45 College choice: Gonzaga
As a sophomore, Maiki Viela was quick as a cat, unstoppable on the basketball court as long as she went to her right.
A year later, she emerged as a new player. Her range expanded from mid-range to the 3-point arc. Her quiet nature had matured into on-court vocal leadership. And that righty-only drive had transformed.
Pump fake, jab step right, crossover step left. Two long strides and two low dribbles to the left, and a pull-up J from 16 feet. All … net.
The work habits of Maiki never surprised her teammates, nor her coach, Todd Rickard. After years of developing on his Menehunes basketball club team, she stepped up as a junior and helped lead Lahainaluna to its first girls basketball state championship.
Before her senior year, Gonzaga was among the universities that came calling for Maiki and her 3.5 grade-point average. As a senior, she returned from a back injury to average more than 20 points per game, as well as five rebounds, five assists and three steals, to lead the Lady Lunas back to the state tournament before losing in the semifinal to Punahou.
The three-time All-State selection and one-time Star-Advertiser Player of the Year also earned another honor this spring: her second Gatorade Hawaii Player of the Year honor. She also is a Parade All-American selection this year.
It all came so quickly for the 5-foot-7 senior, which is only fitting since she’s often a blur on the hardwood. Being named to the Hall of Honor puts a feather on her proverbial cap, just two weeks before she departs for Gonzaga.
“I feel it’s a great honor because not many people get this opportunity to win this award and represent their schools. Basketball gave me an opportunity to go to college, to better myself,” she said. “There are a lot of good athletes out there and I get a chance to go to college and represent Hawaii kids.”
It all goes back to her parents, Laurie and Chad, and a family legacy of strong work ethic. Her uncle, Jon Viela, played baseball for the University of Hawaii and is the baseball coach at Baldwin High School. She’s about to take the leap from her roots and those years of representing West Maui to a new frontier.