The transition is a work in progress on and off the court for the Mililani Trojans.
On a day when former point guard Dahlis Sablay signed a letter of intent to play at Southern Oregon, the Lady Trojans met up with ILH powerhouse Punahou at the Sacred Hearts Academy Invitational. It was a lesson as much as a loss as Punahou overwhelmed Mililani 47-21.
Kianna Ponce led the Lady Trojans with eight points. Long and athletic, Ponce sees the floor well and moves the ball in transition and halfcourt offense. With Punahou in man defense all game long, it was a bit surprising that Ponce didn’t score more. Work in progress.
“She’s getting good looks. Just learning to finish,” Mililani coach Michael Oyama said.
The Trojans played without starting PG Kayla Tansiongco (personal/family).
“We’re pretty young with the second team, just trying to improve every game,” Oyama said. “Having composure and not panicking.”
Punahou guard Melody Lum was a defensive menace, hovering off and deflecting a handful of Mililani passes. The junior finished with six points. Tara Kaneshiro scored seven and Chloe Kaahanui added six as Buffanblu coach Gary Pacarro gave his reserves big minutes.
The Buffanblu raced to a quick 7-0 lead in less than 2 minutes. After Tati Burciaga-Reyes added a bucket it was a nine-point edge. Kaahanui’s steal and layup pushed Punahou’s lead to 13-6, and after Kaneshiro fed Kaahanui on an inbounds play for a layup, the lead was nine.
A transition layup by Jovi Funakoshi with four seconds left in the quarter cut the lead to 15-8. The Buffanblu rotated five in, five out and kept the pressure on. Standing next to a scrum near the key, the ball popped into her hands and she scored an easy layup before the buzzer to open Punahou’s lead to 29-13 at the half.
Sablay, the Trojans’ three-year starter, moved to Las Vegas with her family in the offseason to get more health care for her mother. Now enrolled at Liberty, Sablay tweeted a photo earlier in the day of her signing with Southern Oregon.
“I think that was the best move for them all-around, for all her family,” Oyama said. “Basketball is secondary to their mom and her health.”
Sacred Hearts 50, McKinley 33
Te‘Hiwa Medeiros scored 17 points and Tominika Sole added 15 as the host Lancers fought off the Lady Tigers.
A fullcourt press powered the Lancers to an 8-0 lead, but the visiting Lady Tigers chipped away and pulled within 22-21 early in the third quarter. The Lancers then got a spark from Sole, who hustled for a putback and swished a straightway 3 from 22 feet. After Raena Ho splashed a corner 3, the Lancers capped a 12-0 run and had a 33-21 lead late in the third.
Sacred Hearts’ press kept a lid on the Tigers for much of the second half. McKinley hung around and were still within 41-31 midway through the fourth quarter when Sole splashed a wing 3 to regain momentum.
Guard Hailey Nguyen scored nine points, including two treys, and Raychelle Tavai tallied eight for the Lady Tigers.
The opening round resumes on Thursday. Radford plays Kalani at 5:30 p.m., followed by Seabury Hall and Hawaii Baptist at 7 p.m.
On Friday, the consolation bracket begins at 3:30 p.m. At 6:30 p.m., Sacred Hearts meets Punahou in a semifinal matchup.
The consolation and championship round on Saturday begins at 10:30 a.m. The title game is scheduled for 3 p.m.