Chargers Host Summer Basketball, Focus On Defense

Champions in girls basketball are crowned in February, but summer months figure equally big for most programs.

For Pearl City head coach Kara Taniyama, this summer will be the next step in rebuilding the Chargers’ program.

“The (regular) season goes fast, and to create players and student-athletes in the summer is very important,” she said. “You usually come straight off of tryouts (for the regular season) and go into a preseason tournament. From there, you have tournaments every week and games back to back. (In the spring and summer) we have some regular practices, but we’re more focused on individual development.”

Taniyama and the Chargers also will be preparing for Pearl City Summer League, which runs three games nightly every Monday, Wednesday and Friday June 12-July 15. (Games are at 5:30, 6:30 and 7:30 p.m.)

In addition to host Chargers, Pearl City Summer League features Campbell, Kapolei, Leilehua, La Pietra and Hanalani, as well as an additional team to be named later.

Pearl City went 3-7 with a young roster last winter in Taniyama’s first year. The Chargers made the OIA White playoffs, eventually finishing fourth behind Kaimuki, Castle and McKinley.

“I’m glad they were able to get in, but the girls were extremely nervous going into the postseason and it showed,” Taniyama said.

With their transition year in the rear-view mirror, she is now hoping the Chargers can take the next step in the 2015-16 season.

“Last year, we established what our expectations are,” she said. “They’re more acquainted with us and what we want; there’s been more ‘buy-in.’ We’ve been able to see improvement from day one, and I like our positive attitude and work ethic. We worked with a lot of the young girls in the spring, and we’re a lot more prepared going into this year.”

At Konawaena, where Taniyama starred during her own playing days, the Wildcats’ best offense was always their defense. She’s hoping to instill the same mindset in the Chargers.

“We preach defense and communication every second of every practice,” she said. “The girls have come to learn that if they can’t do that, they won’t play.”

Pearl City has been in rebuild mode since graduating key components from its 2012 OIA Red title team. At that season’s end, longtime Chargers head coach Mike Morton retired, and the Chargers have since shifted to Division II.

“They’re a fun group — there’s never a dull moment around here,” Taniyama said. “The attitude has been positive and their work ethic has been great, and that’s all we can expect. The girls are working really hard in the off-season, and that’s all we can expect. They never give up, which is what I love about this group.”

Of the teams that will take part in Pearl City’s Summer League, Leilehua is coming off the best season in 2014-15, having gone 8- 2 in the OIA West. Campbell went 6-4, and Kapolei finished 3-7. Hanalani and La Pietra went 1-14 and 6-9, respectively, in ILH’s Division II.