Chargers Will Rely On Old Players In New Conference
One in a series of prep basketball previews. schedule awaits this winter.
The good news is that veteran head coach Lionel Villarmia thinks he has the right group to make the leap.
“We’ve always had athletes here at Pearl City, but hopefully we’re a little more basketball savvy,” he said. “I’d like to think we have more basketball experience this year. I like our chances. I think we’ll have a good bench this year.”
Pearl City went 5-6 last year in the OIA White and inherits the bulk of a JV that won its division. Early on, however, the Chargers will lean heavily on senior post player Josiah DeMello and point guard Nick Villarmia, the coach’s son. Both are thirdyear varsity players who cracked the starting lineup midway through their sophomore seasons.
“ Their football season ended a little earlier than they would have liked, but they came (to basketball conditioning) the very next day ready to go,” Villarmia said of his seniors. “I was real happy about that. They have to be leaders this year.”
DeMello packs 220 pounds into a 6-foot-1 inch frame and was a standout two-way tackle on the football team.
“ He’s a brute inside,” Villarmia said. “He plays hard. If we can keep him out of foul trouble, we’ll be OK.”
Nick Villarmia was the team’s starting point guard last season but will see some time at the off-guard spot, if all goes according to plan, as the Chargers hope to use his scoring skills more.
“Hopefully a kid from the JV team will step up to take the pressure off of him (offensively). We’d like him to score more this year since we lost (Johnson) Chao.
“Hopefully, we can get Nick into double digits. He’s our best ball handler right now. Defensively, he’ll guard the other team’s best guard.”
Junior guard Kailin Sabate is a strong candidate to be Villarmia’s back court mate, according to the coach. “He plays hard, and he has a very quick first step — he likes to go to the hole,” Villarmia said. “He’s also a good on-the-ball defender.”
In the post, Villarmia also is projecting big things for junior Kainoa Perez, who adds more size to the front line at 6-1. Junior Paul Perry also returns after logging valuable minutes as a sophomore.
“We really like his development from his freshman year to now,” Villarmia said. “He didn’t run well then, but last year he held his own. He didn’t play football this year to concentrate on basketball.
“Paul is another brute inside like Josiah,” he added of Perry. “He’s going to be our garbage man this year. He had a pretty good summer. Hopefully, this year he can take the load off of Josiah on the defensive end.”
Pearl City’s public unveiling is set for Friday night when the Chargers host Waipahu. The preseason slate also includes a trip to Roosevelt Nov. 23 as well as games with Maryknoll and Academy of the Pacific as part of the Pearl City preseason tournament Nov. 26 and 27.
The Chargers’ OIA Red West opener is set for Dec. 7 at Mililani.
Contact Jack Danilewicz at email@example.com.