Young Chargers Battle For Spot In OIA Basketball Playoffs

For the Pearl City girls basketball team and its White West counterparts – Campbell, Waipahu and Waialua – there exists “the season within the season.” OIA Division I and II teams meet in the regular season before branching off into two divisions for league playoffs and the state tournament. With two playoff spots open to the four White West (DII) teams, head-to-head matchups among them have been akin to playoff games.

The Chargers began this week with three games left – Tuesday’s road date with Campbell, and home games against Mililani and Waipahu Thursday and Monday, respectively. The young Chargers are improving steadily in year two of a major rebuilding job, having lost nearly every player to graduation from its 2012 OIA championship team. Their lone win before last weekend was over Waialua, but the Chargers still had a full-game lead in the playoff battle since the Marauders were still winless.

Among the Chargers poised for a great finish in 2014 is guard Tianna Amorin. A sophomore, Amorin has averaged 10 points a game over her last three.

“She just wants to play basketball – she never worries about distractions,” head coach Miles Okamura said. “She’s real dedicated.”

Okamura’s starting five has included Ciera Sylva, Kayelah Arakaki, Jurey Jao, Sina Sinclair and Megan Ramos of late.

“Megan is our most experienced player – she doesn’t score a lot, but she’s doing all of the little things. She’s playing defense and helping to handle the ball … Ciera has become one of our scorers – she’s a bull. Jurey is getting more confident as a ball-handler.”

Arakaki also has provided a big boost, scoring at a 7.8 points-per-game clip. Sinclair moved into the lineup in mid-December and has “really matured as a player,” he added.

Pearl City will know its playoff fate at the end of Monday’s Waipahu game. A win there could potentially clinch a berth.

Okamura has been pleased with his team’s progress. “They’re learning and getting together,” he said. “They hang in there and never give up, regardless of the score. We just need to start trusting each other more, and we’ll be better off.”