Balance Makes Leilehua And Mililani Tough Test For Foes

As the OIA season winds down this week, its conference tournament and securing berths for the upcoming girls state basketball tournament will be the focus for area teams. A look at the post-season prospects for Leilehua and Mililani follows:

Leilehua High: (7-1 before last weekend)

Signature wins: at Kapolei (51-24), at home over Nanakuli (51-37)

Impact players: Elyshia Bowden (13.4 points per game, No. 6 leading scorer in OIA Red); Tiffany Reyher (10.1); Carissa McBride (9.8); Briana Crawley (9.6); Jerrilyn Maluyo (7.4)

Mules at a glance: Leilehua proves a team can be 7-1 and tied for first in its league and still fly under the radar. In dropping their opener to Mililani, the Mules were strangely forgotten in the regular-season race, but they’re playing as well as anyone in the state at present, having won seven straight heading into last weekend.

Indeed, perhaps no team other than the rival Trojans has dominated within the Red West, as Leilehua has outscored its last seven opponents by an average of 61-25. Although defense has been its forte to date, Leilehua’s ability to score should figure big in the post-season, as every team it faces will be a good defensively. Offensive balance also has paid huge dividends for team, which has five players averaging seven points or better.

Did you know? Leilehua’s 7-1 start represents its best since the 2009-10 season when it went 8-2 in Division II (8-4 overall).

What’s next: Leilehua was to close out its regular season Tuesday with a road game at Aiea. The Mules begin OIA tournament play next week.

Make plans for states if: The Mules can continue to bring it on the defensive end. To date, they have allowed only one opponent, Mililani, to top the 40-point plateau, and they are giving up just 27 points per outing on average. Defense wins championships, as the adage goes, and the Mules are one of the best defensive teams around this season.

Mililani High: (7-0 before last weekend)

Signature wins: at Leilehua (44-37), at home over Radford (66-34)

Impact players: Kapili Amamalin (fourth-leading scorer in the OIA Red, averaging 14.3 points per game); Nayla Long (14.0); Kira Arruda (10.0); Kaylee Torres (8.3); Mikaela Limper (8.0) Trojans at a glance: The Trojans came out of the gate quick with a solid pre-season and have not broken stride since, racking up seven straight wins to begin Red West play. In fact, Mililani’s only real test came against Leilehua, whom it outlasted 44-37.

Like Leilehua, balance has been huge for Mililani on the offensive end, as five players are contributing eight points or better per game. Amamalin and Long lead the way, as their athleticism makes both difficult matchups for opposing teams. Defensively, Mililani has held every opponent under 40 points in league play to date.

Did you know? Mililani is seeking its third Division I state tournament berth in four years.

What’s next: The Trojans were to play their season finale at Waipahu Tuesday and begin OIA tournament play next week.

Make plans for states if: There’s no question the Trojans will finish sixth or better at the OIA tournament, thus securing one of the league’s berths. Mililani is a team with larger goals, however, and should be a factor at the state tournament.