Calvary Chapel’s mystery guard named MVP at Robinson Classic

The ILH girls basketball team with coaches Chico and Dave Furtado after winning the 2018 Senior Classic on Saturday. Photo by Cindy Ellen Russell/Star-Advertiser.

For years, Talia Brandner played with her 808 Basketball Club teammates, another budding hoopster star in the making.

Unlike her club teammates, she didn’t play in the ILH or OIA. She wound up attending high school at Calvary Chapel. In fact, she was virtually out of the spotlight, playing against opponents like Koolau Baptist, Trinity Christian and Friendship Christian.

When she was selected to play on the ILH squad in the Geremy Robinson Senior Classic, Brandner was stunned.

“I was so thankful for this,” she said after being named most valuable player in her team’s 107-76 win over the OIA squad in the fifth annual Geremy Robinson Senior Classic on Saturday night at Blaisdell Center.

Brandner scored 10 points in the first half on 4-for-5 shooting, including a pair of 3-pointers. She finished with 17 points on 7-for-10 accuracy, knocking down three of her four tries from the arc. Teammate Kiana Vierra of Kamehameha finished with 19 points, and one of her five treys was a halfcourt shot in the final seconds. Rhianne Omori of Maryknoll added 11 points and six assists, and Jewel Paaluhi-Caulk (Kamehameha) tallied 11 points and three steals. Moe Notoa (Maryknoll) also had 11 points and Kellie Okamura (‘Iolani) chipped in 10 points.

Center Isabella Cravens had eight points and seven rebounds, hovering over the paint in dominating fashion.

Mikayla Tablit (Konawaena) led the OIA squad with 14 points and Ashley Peralta of Kamehameha-Maui added 13. Delylah Sanerivi (Moanalua) hustled for 13 points and eight rebounds, and Gieani Balino (Campbell) chipped in 10 points. Cherilyn Molina, Konawaena’s returning All-State player of the year, finished with seven points in limited action. She and her family visited sisters Chanelle and Celena Jane in Seattle on Friday, where Washington State played Washington, before blitzing to Honolulu on Saturday in time for the Classic.

Little-known Calvary Chapel guard Talia Brandner scored 17 points to spark the ILH squad over the OIA at the Geremy Robinson Senior Classic. She was named the MVP of the girls game. Paul Honda / Star-Advertiser (Mar. 3, 2018)

While established seniors like Molina have a future plan mapped out — she will play at Washington State — the mystery of Brandner was solved quite quickly. Wearing No. 2, she hit both of her 3-pointers early in the game and added two of her three assists before halftime. With teammates that included several from four-time ILH champion Maryknoll, she didn’t miss a beat and played, for all intents and purposes, like a seasoned veteran. It begs the question: why did she attend a school that doesn’t have the public spotlight?

“Even if I went to a public school, I don’t know if I would’ve got here,” she said, referring to the Classic. “It’s an honor.”

Paaluhi-Caulk, a standout point guard at Kamehameha, praised her ILH squad teammate.

“She plays like an all-star,” she said of Brandner.

Brandner will visit Whitman College and Whitworth College this weekend. She has a 3.7 grade-point average and hopes to play basketball at one of those schools, or possibly at Oregon Tech. Former Kamehameha-Hawaii all-state guard Casey Poe completed her playing career at Whitman this week, capping a superb four-year run.

Vierra outlasted teammate Paaluhi-Caulk for the girls 3-point shooting crown. Vierra has signed to play for UC Santa Barbara.


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