Pre-game: Moanalua @ No. 8 Roosevelt, girls

By Paul Honda

The last time these teams met, Roosevelt wiped out Moanalua 58-31 on Na Menehune’s court.

This time, Moanalua has a relatively healthy Joanna Nicolas back. The junior guard returned from a partially torn ACL on Jan. 8 after missing a few weeks. She’s been effective enough, scoring 7.3 points per game. Her key contribution is distribution. Nicolas runs the offense and finds open teammates better than most players and she added a reliable 3-point shot this season before getting in the league opener against Kailua.

Even with Nicolas healthy, Moanalua (8-7, 5-4) would need a near-perfect performance to stay with Roosevelt (10-3, 7-1). The Oahu Interscholastic Association scheduling format — regular-season play is basically pool play — is suited for a fairly young team like the Rough Riders. As they work out the kinks and gain valuable playing time for younger players, the Rough Riders will probably peak later rather than sooner, and that’s always a good thing.

Mikela Thoemmes, Roosevelt’s 5-foot-9 post, is unstoppable in the OIA. In fact, with most of the state in a downswing — a dearth of truly good posts — she is limited by no opposing defense. She had 19 points and 15 boards against a physical, big Farrington squad despite sitting with foul trouble.

The Rough Riders get their rematch with Farrington this Saturday, but overlooking Moanalua tonight would be a mistake. A loss wouldn’t be catastrophic — just about everyone makes the playoffs in the OIA — but momentum is a tricky thing. Moanalua will arrive at Roosevelt’s ancient gym without the expectations of a Top 10 team, and that makes Na Menehune a dangerous foe.


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