Waialua Girls Facing Up To Challenge

Progress hasn’t shown up in the win-loss column for the Waialua girls basketball team the last couple of years, but the Bulldogs are beginning to see the light, according to head coach Virgilio Basilio.

“We’re kind of optimistic and eager to see how they’ll perform this year,’ said Basilio. “We’re looking at being better than last year.”

Basilio took over last year in the midst of a major rebuilding job, which had begun a year earlier under Michael Moon.

The Bulldogs, who were winless in 2013-14, had been without a girls basketball team for two seasons before Moon restarted the program.

Before taking on his latest challenge, Basilio spent 15 seasons with the Waialua boys program, including the last eight as head varsity coach. He also was an assistant coach for the Waialua football program.

This year, Basilio will rely on a corps of veterans highlighted by juniors Kaedy Hatchett, Kiana Paakaula-Reis, Kayla Kapika and Alaina Bayudan.

Hatchett proved a huge addition to the Bulldogs last season after transferring from Oklahoma.

“She’s our point guard and ball-handler — we’ll look to her to run the team on the court as she did last year. She brings an understanding to what we’re trying to do.”

The loss of junior center Gabriella Delgado to a volleyball injury undermined some momentum from pre-season camp, but Basilio remains optimistic about his team’s prospects in the post.

“Kayla will probably be our starting post with Gabby out,” Basilio said. “I like her and Kiani’s leadership. They bring a lot in helping the rest of the team.”

Paakaula-Reis, meanwhile, will hold down a spot in the back court alongside Hatchett. “Kiani will be one of our shooters — we’ll also depend on her for leadership and ball-handling.”

Bayudan will be one of the Bulldogs’ more versatile players, according to Basilio. “She can play the 2 (position), the 3 or the 4 spot. She’s one of our most improved players from last year, as far as understanding the game.”

Although the program is finding solid ground, numbers have still been an issue. “We’re small in numbers with 11 on paper; most of the time, we’ve only had eight or nine at practice, but they are more understanding of the system (this year).”

Waialua will host Hanalani at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 2 in its first preseason game. A preseason game with Le Jardin is also scheduled for Dec. 11 at home. Waialua’s OIA West opener is set for Dec. 20 at home against Leilehua.