Trojans Face A Hurricane In OIA Red Finale Friday At Home
By Jack Danilewicz
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If the Mililani and Kapolei boys basketball teams have proven anything this season, it’s that balance can definitely win out over socalled “star power.”
Scan the OIA list of scoring leaders, and you will find only one player from either school in the top 10.
Instead of relying on one go-to player, both teams have an array of weapons, making them among the hardest teams to defend against in the local basketball community. The two teams finally meet each other at 7 p.m. Friday at Mililani in the OIA Red finale for both. As both were still undefeated as of late last week, much will be on the line.
Both teams have found strength in numbers. The Hurricanes, who are bidding for their first state tournament appearance in the coming weeks, currently have a trio of players averaging in double figures: Chris Dillard (11.4), Curtis Tavares (11.2) and Joshua Wills (11.0), while Zach Reeves is scoring at a 9.6 clip.
Conversely, Mililani has five players Riley Borges (11.0), Taylor Tuia (10.2), Deshawn Duncan-Benson (9.0), Alex Bumgarner (8.2) and Mene Perese (8.0) doing almost equal damage.
Both teams also have been stellar, defensively, and each are giving up exactly 38 points per game.
“It will be a tough matchup for both,” said Mililani coach Ed Gonzales. “For us, the first five games we played, we had a different leading scorer. That’s a plus for us, and I’m sure (Kapolei head coach) Gary (Ellison) is feeling the same way. They have a nucleus of players who have been there for two or three years.”
Although only two years removed from their last winning season, Kapolei has plainly been the surprise team in the West this time around, after being in rebuild mode last season. The Hurricanes opened 201112 with a flourish, however, defeating Campbell (6752) and Leilehua (60-56) in overtime in back-to-back outings to quickly enter the league’s high-rent district.
Friday night’s game also will figure big for another reason since the outcome could impact who receives the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds from the West for the OIA Tournament. The top two seeds from the East and West earn first-round byes, meaning they begin the tournament two wins away from securing one of the league’s five berths for next month’s Division I state tournament.
“It’s so important to get that first or second seed,” Gonzales said. “It also will be senior night, so it will be an emotional night for us. The boys have been buying into what we’re trying to teach them, and they can see the rewards ahead.”
Before Friday’s Kapolei game, the Trojans also must get by Pearl City, which visits Mililani Wednesday.
“They’re very athletic,” Gonzales said of the Chargers. “They won’t be a slouch.”
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