Pearl City, Mililani Girls Vie For League Basketball Crown
The forecast is “another close encounter” for Thursday night’s girls basketball showdown between Pearl City and Mililani. That much both sides can agree on.
When the teams met back on Dec. 30, the Trojans led by a point after a quarter, were tied with the Chargers at intermission, trailed by two following the third stanza, and eventually won, 38-36. Each team managed to reach double-digits in all but one quarter.
That win also saddled Pearl City with its only loss of the OIA Red West season. The stakes are even higher this time, as the game Thursday could decide the league’s season crown, assuming both teams took care of business in their games over the weekend. Mililani was to play Waianae last Friday, while Pearl City met Aiea. Oceanic-16 will televise Thursday’s game, which will be played at 5 p.m. at Kalani High School.
Like the Chargers, Mililani also had lost only one game (58-51) heading into last weekend, that coming on the road at Kapolei Dec. 17. Mililani entered the weekend on an OIA-best eightgame win streak. With the OIA Red West slate akin to a marathon rather than a sprint, Mililani coach Patrick Basilio wasn’t even aware of the number of wins his team had reeled off in succession late last week as he prepared his team for Waianae.
“I only know we’ve been playing some really good basketball,” he said. “ The girls have been working hard at it.”
The theme remains much the same as for the entire season. The focus is on eliminating self-imposed miscues.
“I tell the girls that if we can minimize our turnovers, I like our chances against any other team.”
Pearl City was led by center Markeshia Manning and point guard Jordan Ahakuelo in the first game. Each scored 11 points. While defending both of them figures to be a key for Mililani, Basilio above all else is looking for a total team effort on the defensive end.
“We don’t try to scheme for one player — they have so many (talented players) — but we have to win the individual battles first,” he said.“Talent-wise, I think we match up pretty well, but they’ve been together a long time, and you can see it on the floor. The flow to their game is smoother, although we’re catching up.”
Ahakuelo has figured big all year for Pearl City and makes the Charger offense go. Mililani’s Courtney Senas drew the assignment of guarding Ahakuelo last time and will do so again after a stellar effort, accord- ing to Basilio.
“She (Ahakuelo) is such an explosive player. We try to put pressure on her, but she’s so heady with the ball that she’ll get to the free throw line. As long as we can keep Courtney out of foul trouble, she’ll be OK.”
Like Pearl City, Mililani displayed its inside-outside game in the first game as center Darcey Goulsby and point guard Kellie Sakai, who tallied 11 and 9 points, respectively, led the way for the Chargers. Amber Ogata also has been a clutch performer for Mililani this season and is a match-up nightmare for most of its opponents.
“ Their bigs ( players inside) are a little taller than ours, but Darcy has a little more speed, so I think that evens out the lack of height,” Basilio said of Goulsby. “Kellie has been running our offense so clean. She’s taken charge of our offensive sets, and every- one else has followed suit. Amber has really stepped it up. She’s been knocking down some big shots, and she’s stepped it up on defense, too.
“We just have to play smart basketball, eliminate turnovers, maximize our opportunities and do the little stuff,” he added.