If there were a comeback player of the year award in prep basketball, Kalena Gibson would be a worthy candidate.
Gibson scored 13 points, including nine in the second half to help spark a massive 36-16 run for the OIA squad against the ILH. The ILH rallied in the final few minutes for a 95-90 win in the Geremy Robinson Senior Classic, but Gibson wrapped up her prep career with immense courage.
The Mililani senior tore her ACL late in the 2017-18 season, near the same spot in the corner where another Trojan, Shantel Appleby, injured her knee a year earlier. Gibson’s athleticism, energy and toughness made her an irreplaceable impact player in the paint. Mililani wasn’t the same without her, but she was determined to step back on the court for her senior season.
“It’s been really hard. I had to do a lot of rehab. There were times I didn’t want to play anymore,” she said. “But once the season started, my teammates had my back. I actually owe it all to them.”
Mililani went unbeaten in the OIA West regular season and qualified for the state tournament. Gibson is still regaining strength and explosiveness, but she made a difference for the Lady Trojans. The best is still ahead of her. She will play at Multnomah College, an NAIA school in Portland, Ore.
That news is a surprise, she said, for her family and friends. Her comeback? No surprise at all for the grittiest of all hoopsters on the courts of Hawaii this season.