Mililani’s Three Seniors Have Trojans Thinking State Title

Among the Mililani girls basketball team’s missions this winter is to send their seniors out in the right way. Veterans Nayla Long, Kapili Amamalin and Kaylee Torres are three reasons why the Trojans have been among the OIA’s best outfits over the past three years, and they are hoping the best is still to come.

“They’re pushing for big things this year after being on the edge (as far as state title contender) the last few,” head coach Patrick Basilio said. “They’ve worked hard for it. They’ve been going nonstop since spring.”

Mililani finished 14-4 last year en route to another appearance in the Division I state tournament. It opened its preseason late last week with a road game versus Farrington before three days of practice this week. It will begin play Thursday in the Lahainaluna Holiday Tournament with a first round game against Maui High. The Trojans also will play games Friday and Saturday as part of the tournament. Also participating is defending state champion Konawaena, as well as Iolani and the hosts.

Among the Maui trip priorities is developing team unity in order to go up against some of the state’s elite teams, according to Basilio. “(Improving team chemistry) is what we’re always shooting for – we always stress the family (atmosphere),” he said. “We always come back better as a whole. We’ll be in a house so that everyone gets to stay under the same roof.”

As the 2012-13 season unfolds, Trojan fans can expect much of the offensive production to come from Long, who recently signed on to play at Charleston Southern College next year.

“Nayla looks like she’s ready for college already, but she’s not done here,” Basilio said. “She wants to do something special with our team. She’s looked really good.”

A 5-8 forward, Long averaged 11.9 points per game last season for Mililani and reached double figures in scoring in 10 games, including posting a season-high of 21 in a state tournament win over Kaimuki. She was a Second Team All-Conference pick along with Amamalin.

Amamalin was the team’s leading scorer overall, averaging 13.3 points per game. She reached double figures in all but three games, establishing herself as one of the Red West’s most consistent performers.

“Kapili always has been physically dominant – she’s so gifted,” Basilio said. “This year people will see a different side of her. Her basketball IQ has grown in the last year.”

Torres is recovering from a shoulder injury, but was expected to take part in all preseason games. “She’s been working really hard. We’ve seen her leadership developing this year, and she’s going to be one of our best defenders.”

Basilio also is excited about transfers Mikaela Limper and Kira Arruda. Both are expected to be big contributors.”I’m excited to see how the seniors and the newcomers play with each other,” he said. “That’s our challenge – getting everybody on the right page. We’ve been doing it the last few weeks, so we’re headed in the right direction.”

Mililani opens its OIA season Dec. 5 with a much-anticipated road date at Leilehua.