Trojans earn state berth, but may lose Gibson

Mililani's Kalena Gibson hauled in a rebound in the first half of Wednesday's OIA quarterfinal win over Kaiser. Gibson left the game in the third quarter with an injury. Photo by Darryl Oumi/Special to the Star-Advertiser.

With a state-tournament berth on the line, the Lady Trojans of Mililani played one of their best games of the season.

A 51-28 win over Kaiser was soured, however, by a potential season-ending injury to senior Kalena Gibson. The lanky forward fell under the backboard on a fastbreak drive during the third quarter and suffered what might be an ACL injury, interim head coach Francis Dagan said. Her value as a the team’s lockdown defensive stopper could be a major loss.

The eighth-ranked Trojans got a balanced attack starting with sparkplug point guard Dahlis Sablay (16 points, five assists), guard Taysia Canon (10 points) and center Cheyenne Ardona (six points, nine rebounds). They also got solid play from several teammates, including recent JV call-up Kianna Ponce, a 5-foot-8 sophomore with long arms. Her athleticism is similar to what Gibson showed through her career.

Gibson said she takes pride in her defense, and if she isn’t able to return, Ponce might be enough of a defensive replacement to keep the Trojans’ amazing season moving forward.

“We’re going to do what we can. Defensively, she’s a big part of what we do. We’ll see what happens at practice between now and the game on Monday,” Dagan said.

Mililani (14-7) advanced to the Oahu Interscholastic Association Division I semifinals with the bittersweet win and secured one of the league’s six state-tournament berths. After a shaky nonconference start, they have won all 10 games in league play and their first playoff game. The Trojans will meet Kalani on Monday at McKinley Student Council Gymnasium.

On Wednesday night, they shot 43 percent from the field (16-for-37) against Kaiser, including 4-for-6 from 3-point range. Mililani was also 15-for-26 from the foul line (58 percent) and outrebounded the visiting Cougars 31-28.

Ponce, the active forward playing in her first varsity game, had two points, three rebounds and three turnovers in limited minutes. Dagan thinks Ponce can fill in defensively. He’s also hoping that Canon continues to increase her production.

“She trained all year, then she had a non-sports surgery in the first week of preseason,” Dagan said. “She’s getting back to full health and conditioning now.”

One of the key differences between Mililani and Kaiser, to no surprise, was the Trojans’ level of composure.

“That’s one thing we try to preach is patience,” Dagan said.


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