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Windward // Windward Oahu Sports

Lady Knights Testing Skills In Preseason Basketball Play

Among Joe Lilio’s first priorities after taking over the Castle girls basketball program in the off-season was to assemble a first-rate preseason schedule. And as the Knights prepare to officially begin winter camp, that mission already has been accomplished.

Indeed, it won’t take long to be tested, as the team opens with a home preseason date Nov. 9 against defending Division I state champion Kamehameha. “We wanted to play a lot of ILH schools,” Lilio said.

On the heels of that game, Castle will appear in the Leilehua Pre-Season Tournament Nov. 14-16 against the likes of Hawaii Baptist Academy, Iolani and Mid-Pacific Institute. Games with Punahou (Division II) and Maryknoll are also in November.

Lilio is familiar with the Castle program, having spent the past six seasons as the head coach for the JV boys.

“I’m really excited about this year,” he said. “We looked really good in the summer. We have a lot of volleyball girls. We’re concentrating right now on conditioning, getting their legs under them and getting the girls back into the basketball flow.”

The 2013-14 varsity girls roster should have a lot of veterans this season. “We’ll have a lot of varsity experience,” Lilio said. “Many of them were pulled up to varsity (as underclassmen), so we should have a very experienced team.”

Castle’s demanding pre-season schedule could pay dividends down the road, as the Knights actually will compete in Division II when it comes to the playoffs and state tournament. “Without getting too far ahead of myself, I think we have a chance to contend in DII,” Lilio said. “That’s our goal – to take the OIA in Division II.”

Castle played in Kalaheo’s Summer League during June and early July. In the latter games, the Knights got their first look at New Mexico-transfer Bree Hidalgo, who is expected to play in the backcourt this winter. “She looks real good,” Lilio said. “She handles the ball well, she’s a really good passer, and she can shoot. She’ll play either the two (guard) or three (forward position) for us.”

Sisters Shaney and Sheastel Tiumalu also are back. Sheastel is a senior and Shaney a junior. “I’m looking for big things from them. I’m really excited about them. Shaney has been on varsity since her freshman year, and Sheastel is already a three-year varsity player.”

Lilio also envisions sophomore Sierra Koki having a big impact in the back-court. “She’ll be handling the point guard spot this year,” he said. “She’s very experienced at basketball. She plays club ball, and she plays all year round. She’s good at penetrating, and she’s a good passer and a good shooter.”

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