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Campbell Seeks Return To DI

Perhaps no girls basketball coach in West Oahu was more eager for off-season workouts than Campbell’s Summer Aona. With the so-called transition year that comes with a coaching change firmly behind them by then, the second-year leader of the Sabers dived in, eager to establish the tone for her program.

“Our off-season helped us a lot,” said Aona, whose team went 3-7 last season, her first year. “The girls who came and trained with us in the summer and the off-season are the girls we can really look to. They are the examples for those who are new to the program.”

Campbell was moved down to Division II during the off-season, although the OIA’s current scheduling format will see it play both DI and DII teams from the West. As far as January’s post-season goes, however, the Sabers will be in a four-team race with DII counterparts Pearl City, Waipahu and Waialua for a state tournament berth.

Aona’s goal is for the Sabers to return to DI to stay. “Our expectations are to be in the Red every year,” she said. “We’re just in that cycle right now. Playing the Red teams like Leilehua and Mililani will help us (get ready for the DII playoffs) as far as training us to handle that kind of pressure.”

The theme since summer workouts has been to increase offensive output, according to the coach.

“We want to score in the 50s (consistently) – high school teams should be scoring that many points,” Aona said. “We’re tweaking our offense a little bit, and we’re making strides. We’re working on getting our kids to buy into that. We’re taking more shots and making the shots we should be taking. We want to be more aggressive and more confident and shoot like we’re going to make shots instead of just taking them. That’s been helping us a little with our offense. Hopefully, we can carry that into our regular season.”

Defending well also has been a high priority this pre-season. “We want to be more proactive, defensively,” she said. “Again, it’s the little tweaks (adjustments) we’ve been making.”

Campbell took a 3-1 preseason record into last weekend, having posted wins over Kaimuki, Island Pacific Academy and Christian Academy. Its lone loss came to King Kekaulike on the last day of Campbell’s preseason tournament.

“It was the first tournament we’ve done and it went well, so we’ll probably do it again,” Aona said. “The game with King Kekaulike (a 59-44 loss) was our most challenging. We did very well in the first half – we were only down 27-25 at the half – but we had a lot of mental errors. We’re still looking for people who are going to lead us.”

Campbell opens its 2013-14 OIA season at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday when it visits Aiea. The home opener is set for Dec. 10 versus Nanakuli. The home slate also includes games with Waipahu Dec. 28, Pearl City Jan. 7 and Waianae Jan. 9.