Pearl City Girls Regroup This Summer With New Players, Coach

The Pearl City girls basketball program is in regroup mode as the summer approaches. Last weekend, it bid farewell to a 10-member senior class that brought home the school’s first-ever OIA basketball title in February.

The architect of that championship, Mike Morton, also has since retired after a long, successful stint with the program.

Even so, excitement endures. In new hire Miles Okamura, the Chargers have a proven coach with longstanding ties to the program.

“The transition has been a lot easier,” athletic director Reid Shigemasa said of hiring in-house. “Miles’ patience (is one strength) – and he’s really involved in the fundamentals of basketball. Quality of practice is important to him.”

Okamura has long been a fixture in the Charger basketball community. He was head girls coach from 1985 to 1990 and has spent the last several years as an assistant on boys coach Lionel Villarmia’s staff.

“I’ve been watching them for awhile, and my real passion is to coach girls, since I started with coaching the girls,” Okamura said. “I’m excited, and my wife’s excited.”

Okamura’s wife, Tricia (maiden name Tamayose), played for Pearl City in the late ’80s and will be head JV coach. His varsity staff will include former Charger girls players Christie Ayers and Barbie Hatcher, as well as Gerald Ishikawa, who played in the boys program in the late ’80s.

Most recently, the new staff conducted basketball clinics for the intermediate-level boys and girls in the community.

“We want to try to teach them as much as we can,” Okamura said.

The varsity, meanwhile, will host a monthlong summer league beginning June 11. Island Pacific Academy, and Kapolei, Mililani, McKinley, Nanakuli, Waipahu and Waianae high schools also will play in the league. (The JV Chargers will compete in a summer league at Leilehua.)

“We’ll try to keep things basic,” Okamura said. “We’ll run a man-to-man defense with a little zone mixed in, and offensively, we’ll try to run some motion.

“We’ll be young this year – we’ll have some sophomores (on the varsity roster) and maybe even a freshman. We’re inexperienced, but we’ll work as hard as we can. Summer will be a learning experience. The main thing is that we work hard and have fun.”