Sabers Switch Up Their De­fense

MidWeek Islander (West Oahu) - - Front Page - By JACK DANILEWICZ

As Camp­bell en­ters its bye week, third-year head girls bas­ket­ball coach Jody Ban­tolina is com­mit­ted to keep­ing de­fense as the team’s forte.

“Our full-court press has been (our strength),” said Ban­tolina, whose team opened its OIA Red West slate with wins over Leile­hua and Aiea and a nar­row loss to Pearl City. “De­fense is very much about ef­fort, and our ef­fort has al­ways been good with this group.”

One twist has seen the Sabers con­vert from their full court press to a man-toman de­fense in the half­court set. In past years, Ban­tolina’s teams played pri­mar­ily a zone. The early re­sults have been en­cour­ag­ing, as Camp­bell could well have been 3-0 to start its sea­son if not for a late run by de­fend­ing Red West cham­pion Pearl City Nov. 29.

How well they tran­si­tion to their new style could be the dif­fer­ence in whether Camp­bell has a good year or a great year.

“ Rep­e­ti­tion will help ( im­prove man-to-man de­fense),” she said. “Af­ter play­ing zone so much, they’re ad­just­ing to the man-toman.

“It’s a mat­ter of ex­e­cu­tion, and men­tally, we have to be there. That’s our biggest prob­lem — be­ing men­tally tough.”

With that in mind, the bye week is good tim­ing. When the team re­turns to the courts Dec. 14 with a key road game against Mililani, it will have had a 10-day lay­off to pre­pare.

To date, Camp­bell’s post play has been largely re­spon­si­ble for its solid start. Ban­tolina wel­comed back both Chan­tay Sa­mante and Cassie Ernst from last year’s team. Sa­mante, who is a three-year var­sity let­ter-win­ner, is av­er­ag­ing 17.7 points per game. She posted 21 points against Pearl City last week. Ernst is a 5-9 ju­nior who is av­er­ag­ing 15.7 point per game. To­gether, the pair com­ple­ment each other well.

“They al­ways know where the other is, and they get the ball to each other,” Ban­tolina said.

The Sabers’ start­ing lineup has in­cluded Mariah Kel­ley, Kealo­hi­lani Akiyama and Liza Ban­tolina in ad­di­tion to Sa­mante and Ernst of late. “Our guards are still raw and very young-minded, but they all work hard,” the coach noted.

The Sabers’ back court fig­ures to get a boost when Kahuku-trans­fer Sha­hanna Avilla re­turns from an in­jury that side­lined her for the first three games. Ban­tolina was to know more on her sta­tus late last week.

“She’s our best guard,” she said.

An­tonette Labausa, C.J. Va­le­ri­ano, Robyn Padilla, Ash­lyn Maria, Court­ney Hornos and Ipo Achiu round out the ros­ter.

Ban­tolina also praised the work of her new as­sis­tant coach­ing staff, which in­cludes Rick Cur­ran, Meka Cur­ran and Sum­mer Aona.

“They’ve helped a lot in run­ning our prac­tices. I want to thank them for be­ing there for me.”

Mililani was 2-2 in its first four league games and fig­ures to be a fac­tor in the Red West race again, as in past years. With the Tro­jans sched­uled to visit Camp­bell Jan. 5 in the Red West’s sec­ond round, a road win at Mililani next week would be a huge con­fi­dence­builder for Ban­tolina’s team.

Con­tact Jack Danilewicz at jack­ster.1969@ya­hoo.com.

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