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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, March 13, 2008

Higa's hard work pushes him to top

By Leila Wai
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Danny Higa

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Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Sabo Nakamine

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Kalani junior midfielder Danny Higa has been one of the top players in the O'ahu Interscholastic Association Eastern Division since he was a freshman. This year, coaches rewarded him with the league's top honor.

Higa was named the OIA Red East Player of the Year. He was also selected to the first team for the third year in a row.

"He works really hard in practice and expects a lot from himself," said Kalani coach Travis Watanabe, who said Higa's strength was his ability to involve everyone in the offense.

"He's dangerous; we had to mark him up one-on-one at all times," Castle coach Sabo Nakamine said.

Higa, second in the Red East with 10 goals, scored against all but one opponent this season. But it is his ability to create plays and set up teammates that is noteworthy. Watanabe estimated that Higa was involved in more than half of the Falcons' division-high 36 goals this season.

Higa and defenders Dylan Taschner and Codi Oshiro were selected to the first team for Kalani.

Kaiser also had three selections. The senior forward tandem of Reed Sufrin, who scored six goals, and John Moats, who added five, and defender Kyle Niiro made the team.

Castle midfielder Blayne Muraoka, who led the Red East with 16 goals, was the lone Knight selected to the first team.

Roosevelt placed two on the first team: forward Ryan Pena (five goals) and midfielder Leslie Nwapa (seven goals).

Kalaheo midfielder Nathan Johnson, Moanalua defender Justin Watanabe and Kaimuki goalkeeper Yeong Lee round out the first team.

Higa, Taschner, Pena, Muraoka and Niiro are all repeat selections; it is the third first-team honor for Higa and Niiro.

Nakamine was named the Coach of the Year after leading the Knights to a share of the Red East title with Kaiser.

Reach Leila Wai at lwai@honoluluadvertiser.com.

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