Lady Marauders to play in Division I this basketball season
One in a series of prep basketball previews longtime Waipahu coach Nadine Villarmia was looking for a productive off-season.
The Marauders’ summer schedule assured as much. In addition to taking part in Pearl City’s highly regarded summer league, Waipahu also hosted one of its own. All told, it played a game every night, Monday through Friday, for one solid month last summer.
“I like the work ethic of this group — that’s probably what has impressed me the most,” Villarmia said. “It’s early to tell, but we have good chemistry for this point in the season. Summer league helps with that.
“It probably also helped that it was held at our school and that there were minimal practices — just games, but they all came out. In past years, we would have to borrow kids from other teams to have five.”
Waipahu finished 4-6 in the OIA White West Conference last year and was eliminated in the first round of the conference tournament. A second-place finish behind Leilehua in the White, as well as the Waipahu JV’s first-place finish in the West prompted the program’s promotion to the Red this year, where they’ll join Aiea, Campbell, Kapolei, Pearl City and Mililani, as well as Leilehua, which was also in DII in 2009-10.
“We’re excited to move up. We get to play the better competition, and that will make us better. It’s also a testament to last year’s team and our JV kids.”
The Marauders will build around seniors Ana Batan and Catrina Masaniai as well as sophomore Trisha Malala. All three were starters last season and should provide leadership to a team that will fill out its roster with first-year varsity players.
Batan, who Villarmia calls “our best defensive player,” leads the way from the point guard spot.
“She’s a natural defender. She loves to run — she’s all over the place. She has a lot of endurance, and she’s one of our quickest players.”
Batan has been recovering from an ankle sprain suffered during the recent cross country season but isn’t expected to miss any games, according to her coach.
While Waipahu’s outside play will begin with Batan, experience in the post will be provided by Masaniai.
“She put in a lot of effort to stay in shape over the summer,” Villarmia said of Masaniai. “She did well in volleyball, and she’s been practicing hard in basketball, so I expect her to have a better year.”
Villarmia is high on Malala, who still has three years of eligibility remaining. “She’s probably our best ‘gamer. She loves to play basketball, and she’s coming off of a good summer, too.”
Waipahu was to play its first preseason game against Hanalani on Monday and will return to action Thursday in the Leilehua Tournament, where it faces King Kekaulike in its first-round game. The tournament continues on Friday when Waipahu meets Sacred Hearts and Saturday against Kauai.
The Marauders’ only other preseason game is a road date Nov. 18 against 2010 DII state champion Kaimuki.
“The East teams are always tough,” Villarmia admitted. “It will be a good test for us right before the season.”
Waipahu’s OIA Red West opener is set for Nov. 22 at Aiea.
Contact Jack Danilewicz at email@example.com.