Depth Spurring Mililani Girls Basketball To Early Success

The Mililani girls basketball team can trace some of its preseason success back to its ability to develop depth, according to head coach Patrick Basilio. The Trojans went 7-2 in pre-season games, losing only to Lahainaluna and Waiakea, while posting a monumental win over defending state champion Kona.

“One of the biggest challenges we put on the girls this year was that we didn’t want a huge drop-off between the first and second teams when they come into the game,” Basilio explained. “They’ve come along nicely. When we get to the post-season, we have to be eight or nine deep (rotation-wise), and we’re working toward having 10.”

His starting lineup aside (Nayla Long, Kaylee Torres, Kapili Amamalin, Mikaela Limper and Kira Arruda), Basilio had high praise for key reserves Zyriana Davies, Shantell Appleby and Summer Bolibol.

“Aside from the starters, Zyriana has been doing well, and Shantell has been playing well, and Summer has found her confidence again. They’ve been real good coming off of the bench.”

Mililani took a 2-0 record in OIA West play into a key matchup with Kapolei over the weekend. The Trojans had defeated both Leilehua and Pearl City to begin league play. Mililani visits Campbell Wednesday in what figures to be a critical game in the regular season.

Basilio expects his team to be fully restored in the health department. Limper and fellow point guard Jamie Yuki both suffered injuries recently and had to miss time with the team. Limper was to return to the lineup for the Kapolei game last weekend, while Yuki is day-to-day.

“Our trips helped us out despite the (injury-related) setbacks,” Basilio said. “Our team came back better as a whole.”

Campbell began its OIA season 1-2, losing to Leilehua (67-21) and Aiea (57-43), while posting a win over Waipahu (43-39). “Campbell’s ‘bigs’ (post players) have been their strength the past couple of years and their guards always scrappy,” he said, “so we’ll have to be on top of our game to come away with a win.”

The game with the Sabers already will mark the midway point of the regular season for Mililani.

As in past years, the Trojans have taken the defensive-minded approach, having given up an average of just 21 points through their first two league wins over Leilehua and Pearl City. Basilio singled out Arruda’s on-the-ball defense as helping to set the tone on that end of the floor.

“She’s been one of the biggest surprises,” he said. “Everyone knows she’s a threat offensively as a 3-point shooter, but she plays some good shut-down defense. We always put her or Kapili (Amamalin) on the other team’s best offensive player.”

Mililani returns home to play Waianae on Saturday.