Pearl City Pushes Through Injuries With Playoffs In Mind

Injury reports have taken a back seat to scouting reports in recent weeks for the Pearl City girls basketball team.

But with a 14-day layoff before the OIA White tournament, first-year head coach Kara Taniyama is thinking her team may weather the storm after all.

“It will be a long break, but it will be great for us coming off all of these injuries,” she said. “We just had four return, and the break will allow us to get some rest and become more focused. We couldn’t ask for a better time for our bye.”

The Chargers were to close out the season Tuesday with a key home game against Waialua. While the rest of the league will be in action Thursday, Pearl City will already be finished.

In addition to celebrating its clean bill of health, the Chargers also are celebrating a return to the postseason. Although they were just 2-6 heading into last weekend, they have been solid where it counts, as both wins came against fellow OIA Division II West opponents Aiea and Waipahu.

A win over an 0-7 Waialua team Tuesday would give them a sweep of their DII West foes and guaranteed the top seed (and first-round bye) for the OIA DII tournament.

“For us to make the playoffs is definitely a real reward, especially coming off of a rough start,” Taniyama said. “I really like all of our personalities. They are great kids with great hearts.

“The girls deserve to be in the playoffs because they’ve been working hard, and I have the utmost faith they will do well.”

Taniyama, who was one of the most decorated players to come out of Konawaena during her own prep days, is in the midst of a rebuilding job at Pearl City, which won a DI OIA title three years ago under the since-retired Mike Morton.

Among the challenges for a first-year coach are issues that go with implementing a new system, but

Taniyama said it has been a quick transition since taking over last spring. “We were very fortunate as coaches in that they were willing to make the changes we wanted,” she said. “The buy-in was a lot smoother than I thought it would be.”

The extra practice time the Chargers will have from qualifying for the playoffs should be a boost to the program’s long-term prospects, especially for the underclassmen.

Among the priorities of late has been a focus on becoming more consistent, according to the coach.

“Sometimes we’ve shown up for a game and played well, and then we’ve been a different team the next night. We hit a few rough patches, but right now we’re trying to move on. The girls have been working really hard.”

Pairings for the tournament were to be finalized late on Thursday.

The top three finishers at the DII tournament will earn the league’s berths for next month’s DII state tournament.