Lady Ma­raud­ers to play in Di­vi­sion I this bas­ket­ball sea­son

MidWeek Islander (West Oahu) - - Front Page -

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 jack­ster.1969@ya­

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