Sabers Switch Up Their Defense
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.