Tesoro at home in Linfield backcourt
By Kalani Takase
Advertiser Staff Writer
Cody Tesoro found home without coming back to Hawai'i.
After completing a decorated prep basketball career at Baldwin in 2005, Tesoro took his game to Monmouth, Ore., and Western Oregon University. He spent two seasons at the Division II school but yearned for something more.
"I just felt that Western Oregon wasn't the right fit," said Tesoro. "One thing was being said and it wasn't happening."
The Kahului native turned his sights on the neighboring Northwest Conference. As a Division III conference, no athletic scholarships are given, but for Tesoro, it offered much more.
"A chance to play," said Tesoro, a 6-foot, 175-pound shooting guard. "I looked at a few of the schools that were nearby Western Oregon, but when I talked to (Linfield) coach (Larry) Doty, he told me, 'If you come here, you're going to play.' "
Linfield's McMinnville campus, which sits just 25 miles north of Monmouth, was already familiar for Tesoro's family.
"My dad actually graduated from Linfield and I think he was a freshman when (Doty) was a senior," Tesoro said. "I really wanted to stay in Oregon and Linfield felt like the best fit for me."
Doty, who is in his 23rd season as head coach of the Wildcats, said Tesoro brings a lot to the court.
"He understands how to play the game," Doty said. "He's a really poised player when he's on the floor. He's a hard-nosed competitor and he scores a lot, but is also unselfish."
Still, Doty said there were areas where Tesoro needed improvement.
"Three years ago when he first came here, we wanted him to be able to defend and rebound better than what he did," he said. "He has always been a polished offensive player, but now he does all those things for us, too. He's not real big in height or girth around him, but he's able to use his speed and athleticism."
But ultimately, Tesoro is a scorer. As a sophomore he shot 46 percent from 3-point range while working his way into the lineup. Last season, he started 18 games and earned Second Team All-NWC honors while averaging 12.4 points per game.
"I like to get to the bucket — get near the paint and draw some contact and finish with a layup or a strong move," Tesoro said. "Defensively, I just wanted to pressure my guy, force some turnovers, but definitely, offense is my thing."
Doty said Tesoro's grasp of the Wildcats' offense has helped them to their 7-1 mark in league play.
"He really understands, with our group, how we need to play every game when those guys are on the floor," Doty said. "He brings a lot of toughness and he's a clutch free-throw shooter."
This season, Tesoro has started all 16 games and is third in the NWC in scoring at 17.3 points per game. He also ranks seventh in field-goal percentage (.798) and 10th in steals (1.38). In an 85-81 win at Whitman Saturday, Tesoro scored 23 points and was 10-of-11 from the free-throw line.
Linfield is in second place, behind unbeaten Whitworth. The Wildcats dropped the first meeting between the schools (79-62) Friday, but have a chance at redemption in the regular-season finale.
Doty said he isn't looking ahead to the Feb. 20 meeting just yet.
"We play at Pacific Lutheran Friday and at Puget Sound Saturday and that's really our last significant trip — that will finish a stretch of seven out of eight on the road," Doty said. "Our team has done a really good job, but this weekend is critical. If we can handle both of those teams, we set up with five out of our last six games on our home court, including that game against Whitworth, which could potentially be a huge game."
As for Tesoro, he wouldn't want to be anywhere else.
"Western Oregon was a good experience — it's a bigger school — but I'm happy where I'm at now," he said.
The icing on the cake for Tesoro came in the form of a nonleague game against his old school last season.
Said Tesoro: "We played them in preseason at their place ... we won by 15."
MORE MEN'S BASKETBALL
• Lewis & Clark (Ore.) senior guard Tyler Tsukazaki (Maryknoll '06 of Honolulu) scored a team-high 14 points with three rebounds in a 76-71 loss to George Fox Friday.
• Willamette (Ore.) sophomore forward Taylor Mounts ('Iolani '08 of Kailua) had 17 points in a 96-90 loss to Pacific Lutheran Friday. Mounts had 11 points and five rebounds in Saturday's 80-72 win over Pacific.
• UNLV sophomore forward Jamie Smith ('Iolani '08 of Kailua) had team-highs of 17 points, 13 rebounds and four blocks last Wednesday in a 66-65 overtime loss to Colorado State. Smith had 15 points and 13 rebounds in Saturday's 81-61 loss to TCU.
• Idaho sophomore guard Shaena Kuehu (Punahou '08 of Honolulu) had 12 points and eight rebounds, and freshman guard Natasha Helsham ('Aiea '09) added three points in a 68-65 win over New Mexico State last Wednesday. In Saturday's 58-53 loss to San Jose State, Kuehu scored 11 points and freshman guard Kanisha Bello (Waiākea '09 of Hilo) added five points.
• Cal State Northridge junior forward Analee Viena-Lota (Kamehameha '07 of Honolulu) had 10 points and seven rebounds in a 73-60 loss to Cal Poly Saturday. Freshman guard Janelle Nomura (Punahou '09 of Honolulu) had six points, four rebounds and seven assists and freshman forward Violet Alama (Kalani '09 of Honolulu) added six points, four rebounds and four blocks for the Matadors.
• Concordia (Calif.) junior guard Nicole Fu (Maryknoll '07 of Honolulu) scored a team-high 19 points and grabbed five rebounds in a 60-53 win over Fresno Pacific Saturday.
• Middlebury (Vt.) senior guard Alana Wall ('Iolani '06 of Honolulu) grabbed a game-high 16 rebounds with four points, three blocks and three steals in a 47-31 win over Connecticut College Friday.
• Willamette (Ore.) junior forward Keilyn Fujioka ('Iolani '07 of Kailua) had 11 points, 14 rebounds, three blocks and two steals in a 64-49 win over Pacific Lutheran Friday. In Saturday's 62-47 loss to Pacific (Ore.), she recorded 18 points, seven rebounds and five blocks.
• Stanford sophomore outside hitter Brad Lawson ('Iolani '08 of Honolulu) had 19 kills, junior outside hitter Spencer McLachlin (Punahou '07 of Honolulu) had 16 and sophomore libero Erik Shoji (Punahou '08 of Honolulu) added 12 digs in a four-set win over BYU Friday. Senior setter Kawika Shoji ('Iolani '06 of Honolulu) had 63 assists for the Cardinal, while sophomore middle blocker Futi Tavana (Kaua'i '05) had 11 kills for the Cougars. Tavana recorded 16 kills in Saturday's four-set BYU victory. Lawson led Stanford with 22 kills.
• USC junior outside hitter Tri Bourne (Academy of the Pacific '07 of Honolulu) had 11 kills and seven digs, and junior setter Riley McKibbin (Punahou '07 of Honolulu) had 50 assists with nine digs in a sweep of Long Beach State last Wednesday. In Friday's sweep of UC San Diego, McKibbin recorded 51 assists and Bourne put away 11 kills for the Trojans.
• UC San Diego junior outside hitter Will Ehrman (Punahou '06 of Honolulu) had 13 kills and four digs in a four-set win over Pepperdine last Wednesday. It was the first-ever win over the Waves for the Tritons.
SWIMMING & DIVING
• Boise State freshman Jennifer Cahill (Baldwin '09 of Wailuku) won the 500- and 1,000-yard freestyle races in a dual meet against Idaho Saturday. Cahill won the 500 in 5:10.53 and the 1,000 in 10:27.39. The Broncos won easily, 217-83.
• Redlands (Calif.) senior Melanie Loo ('Iolani '06 of Waipahu) won the 200-yard butterfly in 2:14.19 in a dual meet against Cal Lutheran Saturday.
INDOOR TRACK & FIELD
• Colorado's Javen Correia (Maryknoll '08 of Wai'anae) won the 60-meter hurdles at Saturday's Potts Invitational in 8.56 seconds.
• Dartmouth's Joy Piotrowski (Punahou '09 of 'Aiea) placed fourth in the triple jump at Saturday's home meet against Columbia and Yale with a leap of 34 feet, 7 inches.
• Haley Abing (La Pietra '09 of Honolulu) of Kenyon (Ohio) was seventh in the mile in 6:09.70 at Saturday's Denison Lid-Lifter Invitational.
• Air Force junior Kazden Ikehara (Kamehameha '07 of Mililani) helped the Falcons to a 37-15 win over Mesa State Saturday. Ikehara, who competes at 197 pounds, pinned Shane Miller in overtime.
• Former Saint Louis defensive coordinator Jacob Yoro has been named linebackers coach at Pacific (Ore.) University. Yoro, who spent last season in the same position at Montana-Western, will also coordinate the Boxers' recruiting efforts in Hawai'i. Yoro also coached at Mililani and Waipahu high schools.Advertiser Staff Writer Stanley Lee contributed to this report.