Mililani Girls Looking To Make Hoop History In OIA Playoffs
By Jack Danilewicz
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Whether or not the Mililani girls basketball team can break through and be the first West team to win the OIA Red Championship will be known in the coming days, but the Trojans enter the post-season knowing they have handled their business to date in a championshiplike manner.
“We’re pretty much right on pace,” said coach Patrick Basilio. “We had the meat of our schedule near the end, so that set us up perfectly.”
The Trojans’ resume includes a perfect 11-0 regular season, highlighted by their convincing 4636 win Jan. 7 over Pearl City. A riveting road win at Kapolei (38-34) Dec. 30 also figured big in the team’s run, as did a hardfought win over Leilehua in the regular-season finale.
Seeded first out of the West, the Trojans were to host a second-round game last Friday against either Aiea or Roosevelt. Pending the outcome of Tuesday’s game, Mililani will either play in the winners’ or losers’ bracket in the double-elimination tournament. The top six finishers at the tournament earn the OIA’s berths for the upcoming Division I state tournament.
Since the OIA broke off into two divisions, no team from the West has won the overall title. (Radford won the 2011 title in Division II, the first for a West team.) Despite those numbers, the West seems be gaining ground in recent years, in large part because of the balance that exists within the division. Pearl City, Kapolei and Leilehua high schools all enjoyed solid regular seasons in addition to the Trojans.
“The gap (between East and West) is definitely closing,” Basilio said. “There’s a lot more parity in our league.”
Mililani’s own balance makes it perhaps the safest bet to come out of the West. The Trojans feature size and athleticism in their starting lineup, which has included Nayla Long, Kapili Amamalin, Taylor Babbitt, Kaylee Torres and Kayla Wright lately.
“(Balance) is a great thing to have going in,” Basilio said. “We have two or three who can step up and carry us at any time, if not all five.”
Summer Bolibol, Jerika Bacuycuy and Reiko Naniole also have figured into the rotation, while the Trojans’ roster also includes Megan Madeira, Jelicia Johnson, Elizabeth Gustafson, Jazmine Lozano and Mika Gallardo.
Defense was Mililani’s forte during the regular season as it held eight of 10 opponents to under 40 points. (The Trojans’ win over Waialua on Dec. 20 was a forfeit.)
Basilio expects the team that can best stay out of its own way to have the upper hand over the next 10 days in the OIA tournament.
“From here on in, whoever plays smarter and makes less mental mistakes (has the edge),” Basilio said.
“We had a lot of unforced turnovers earlier in the season, but the girls have made a conscious effort to keep the count down.”
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