Chargers Stronger After Preseason Run

Should the Pearl City High School girls basketball team’s best offense be its defense this season, it will be just fine with first-year head coach Kara Taniyama.

The former Konawaena High School (on Hawaii island) standout’s approach is not unlike when she was starring for the Wildcats and coach Bobbie Awa.

“I think our defense is what will spark us in the long run,” said Taniyama, who spent the past two seasons as head coach of Mid-Pacific Institute’s girls junior varsity team in the Interscholastic League of Honolulu (ILH), before taking over the Charger program in the spring.

“That’s what we rely on, and it is what has been holding us up (in preseason) because we haven’t worked a lot on offense yet.”

The commitment to being strong on defense began in the fall during preseason conditioning, according to Taniyama, who also played two years at City College in San Francisco following her prep career with Konawaena.

“From spring to summer to our preseason conditioning, the kids never gave up,” she said. “I don’t know much about their conditioning in the past, but it was a learning process for them, and they slowly bought in, and now their hearts are 100 percent into the program.

“It’s nice to know they want to win and do better,” she added. “Making progress is success in and of itself. They had a hard time transitioning (to the new staff’s directives), but they began to understand why they needed (conditioning) so much.

“Conditioning was a big thing for me in taking this position. I can see great things happening here in the future.”

The Chargers are only three years removed from winning the 2012 OIA Red title.

They have been in the heavy rebuild mindset ever since huge losses to graduation from that team, which has left the program with unusually youthful rosters of late.

Miles Okamura, who was Pearl City Chargers’ head coach back in the late 1980s, returned to the program and was head coach again the past two seasons.

Pearl City Chargers were 2-9 last year in the OIA White Division.

The team is in DII again now, making Thursday’s OIA opener at Waipahu a critical game for both schools in their long-range quest to make the post-season.

“It’s a key game for us,” said Taniyama, whose staff includes assistant coaches Nikki Takai (head JV coach), Ben Cardoza and Jerry Gapol. “No. 1, it’s a game in our division, and we also want to get off to a good start.

“The girls’ attitudes will be more positive (with a win).”

On the heels of Thursday’s game at Waipahu High School, the team will visit Mililani High School for a game Saturday.

Its home opener is set for Dec. 23 versus Campbell High School’s Sabers team.

The Chargers also will start the new year strong and host games against both Nanakuli’s Golden Hawks Jan. 6 and Waianae High School’s Seariders Jan. 10.