Defense Makes Mililani A Favorite In OIA Girls Basketball

Should the Mililani girls basketball team make another post-season run next month, it will likely look back on its defensive development as a huge contributing factor, to hear head coach Patrick Basilio tell it.

Five games into their OIA West slate, the Trojans had given up just 24.7 points per outing.

“There was a steep learning curve for some of the newer players, more on the mental side, and now they’ve picked up on it and really figured out where to be,” Basilio said. “Our last game against Kapolei (a 54-13 win) was pretty impressive the way they shut down their offense. They’ve stepped up their aggressiveness. They’ve kept at it and are seeing the fruits of our labors, so to speak.”

The Trojans began 2015 with a 5-0 record and are in the midst of the most-anticipated stretch of their season. They were to play rival Leilehua (4-1 at press time) on the road last Thursday in a key OIA West game. Equally big is Wednesday’s trip to Nanakuli, which was 3-1 at press time.

The Hawks’ lone defeat in the OIA West’s first round was a 50-48 setback from Leilehua Dec. 23.

“That is going to be a huge one,” Basilio said of Wednesday’s game. “Nanakuli has really come on this year. We’ll have to really take care of the ball, which was an issue early in the year. They’re really aggressive, defensively, and they press. They’ll put us to the test. Lately, the girls have realized the value of a possession, and they’re making the smart passes now.”

With that in mind, Mililani’s back court play should be a factor Wednesday night. In sophomore Kayla Torres and junior Jamie Yuki, the Trojans have one of the better back courts in the league.

“They complement each other well,” Basilio said.

“They are interchangeable. Either can take the point or the off guard spot.”

Basilio’s starting lineup also has included Summer Bolibol (7.4 points per game), Shantel Appleby (9.6) and Velisa Meleisea (6.8). Bolibol, who is the team’s starting center, had a season-high 12 points in the rout of Kapolei last week.

“Summer is playing the best basketball of her career,” Basilio noted. “Mentally, the game has slowed down for her. She sees it well now, and she’s letting the game come to her.”

Mililani defeated Campbell 54-36, Pearl City 61-15, Radford 32-27 and Waianae 55-31 in addition to Kapolei.

Basilio credited the pre-season games with preparing them for the regular season.

Mililani opened its 2014-15 preseason with trips to Hawaii island and Maui on back-to-back weekends, where it faced some of the best teams in the state, including Konawaena, Hilo, Kamehameha-Hawaii, Honoka‘a and Lahainaluna twice.

“They’ve made huge strides since preseason as far as growth, and they’ve come together as a team.

The one thing that helped them was playing against that level of talent. They were top-notch teams. It was tough in the early going.”

After the Nanakuli game, Mililani will host Waipahu Jan. 20 and visit Waialua Jan. 22 to complete the season. The OIA Division I tournament begins the following week.