By Paul Honda
In case you haven’t heard, the Mililani-Campbell boys basketball game is not tonight.
The game was shifted to Tuesday (yesterday) to accommodate Mililani’s request. A fundraiser golf tournament today initiated the change of schedule.
Sixth-ranked Mililani won in an overtime thriller, 55-51, as reported in this morning’s edition. I was assigned to cover this game today, but things do change and I’m bummed that I didn’t get to see two fast-rising teams in the Oahu Interscholastic Association Red West.
Talked with both coaches, Wyatt Tau of Campbell and Ed Gonzales of Mililani today. The plus for both teams is that they’re both heading to the playoffs, so a loss right now isn’t make-or-break by any means.
“We had a three-point lead with one minute left (in regulation),” Tau said. “We have to learn to be patient. We’ve had a lot of improvement from preseason to now. Our guys aren’t used to having this much structure, pushing the ball when they can and pulling it out.”
The run-and-gun Sabers haven’t forgotten how to play uptempo. Going back several years, they’ve thrived in the Red West with that style of play. Tau, who coached at Aiea during a run to the Division II state final, knows plenty about fast-paced basketball.
“We’ve got to have better clock management,” he said. “Our impatience is killing us now.”
Last week, the 10th-ranked Sabers (13-7, 6-1) got a taste of slowdown hoops when Waipahu held the ball for almost the entire third quarter. With a five-point lead, Campbell elected to sit back, and eventually won the game.
For Mililani (13-3, 7-0), defensive stops have been a big factor. The Trojans have a little more patience at this point that most OIA title contenders.
“It’s part of the learning experience,” Gonzales said. “In overtime, we were down four, we went man when they pulled it out and got some steals. We went inside, got our free throws and scored the next eight points.”
Whether it was hydration or conditioning or both, Campbell seemed to run out of gas.
“They had a tough one against Radford on Monday, then they played us. Playing back-to-back is tough and a lot of their guys were catching cramps,” Gonzales added.
Mililani’s defensive emphasis included slowing down Campbell’s Christian Storment, who was limited to three points. As a whole, Gonzales was fine with the slower pace; when the two teams played earlier in the season, Mililani won 79-70.
“Campbell has a lot of shooters and their other guys stepped up,” he said. “It’s good that we have a game like that now. It strengthens us. In the playoffs, everybody will be tough.”