GLENDALE — Traveling around for summer tournaments is nothing out of the ordinary for a high school basketball squad.
The tournament that nine members of the Flintridge Prep boys’ basketball team will embark for today, however, is a bit off the beaten path and certainly comes with some perks that local summer events simply can’t offer.
The setting is the island of Maui, where the Rebels will spend a week building team camaraderie and enjoying the tropical environment when not taking on other high schools and club teams from Hawaii in the 2008 Maui Summer Classic.
“Actually, we were looking to go play [in Maui ] during the Christmas break [in the] Maui Winter Classic, but this year they had changed the dates and we would have still been in school,” said Prep Coach Garrett Ohara, who piloted the Rebels to the Prep League title last season. “I figured the summer would be a little more fun. ...in the summer, the games are not as stressful and stuff like that, so I thought it would be great to just bond with the guys.”
Upon their arrival in Maui, the Rebels will have two practice days before beginning pool play on Wednesday with matchups against Lahainaluna High and Maui Pride.
Pool play concludes Thursday and following a day of scheduled non-basketball activities on Friday, there will be a two-day championship tournament.
While the action on the court figures to help the Rebels begin to prepare for the upcoming season, the trip also will double as part team-building retreat and part summer vacation.
“It will be a good chance to bond with everybody, have fun and just relax,” said guard Jonathan Woo, who will be a third-year varsity starter as a junior.
Helping the Rebels unwind and enjoy themselves between game days will be several Hawaiian-themed events.
The opening ceremonies on Sunday night will conclude with a luau where all participants and their families will be entertained by Hawaiian dancers and dine on regional cuisine.
There is a mid-week dance for players from the girls’ and boys’ tournament at the same time that a mixer will be held for coaches and parents, and the closing ceremonies include more entertainment, awards and barbecue.
“The basketball’s why we’re going, but everyone’s excited just to hang out and be in Maui for a week,” Ohara said.
Also, with Flintridge Prep’s gym currently undergoing extensive renovations, the chance to get away and play some games comes at an opportune time.
“Mostly it’s gonna be a team-bonding experience,” said guard Aaron Fried, for whom the trip will also be a family reunion of sorts, as his grandparents live in Hawaii. “It will just be good to get everyone together and get away for a while.”