Photo credit: Coach Kato
On Jan. 14, the MHS girls varsity basketball team battled Leilehua High School on Leilehua’s home court in their last game before the postseason. The game determined which team would be the second ranked team in the overall Oahu Interscholastic Association (OIA) West standings heading into the upcoming championship tournament. In the end, Mililani won the game with a final score of 54-38.
“As this was our last regular season game, this victory was a satisfying way to close out our season. Coming off a win and securing the second seed puts us in good momentum as we head into playoffs,” said captain and guard Senior Kayla Tansiongco. Captain and small forward Senior Kianna Ponce added, “I feel great about the victory and I am very proud that our team played with such grit and determination.”
Mililani started the game with an early lead, scoring 38 points in the first half to Leilehua’s 20 points. The Trojans sustained their lead until the final buzzer, scoring 23 points in the final half to Leilehua’s 18. “It’s always fun to play when there’s a big crowd because every moment creates a big reaction. We went on like a 10-0 scoring run and there was just so much noise after each basket we made,” said Tansiongco. Power forward Junior Tylor Goldsmith added, “I think the highlight of the game was Kianna hitting almost all of her free throws, since it was the first game back from her injuries.”
Winning the game not only secured Mililani’s position as second seed in the OIA playoffs — it also awarded the girls one week to practice without the distraction of games. For Mililani, the bye week is a time to rest, recover and prepare for the postseason. “It was also big for us because we currently have two injured players, so by winning this game it gave us a bye week so our players have more time to recover and rest,” said Ponce. “Right now, we are working on strengthening our defense and offense plays. We are really focusing on the possibility of playing against Kahuku sometime during the playoffs, which will be a challenging game.”
The game against Leilehua closed out Mililani’s season with a league record of nine wins and one loss and an overall record of 12 wins to five losses. As the team moves forward into the postseason, part of preparing for the playoffs involves reflecting on how they have changed throughout the season. “In the beginning of the season we were really divided and there were cliques formed and it kind of showed on the court. Now we’re all united and that makes for a better playing experience,” said Goldsmith.
Tansiongco added, “Lately we’ve been getting better at playing as a team and trusting each other, and game after game we’ve been playing our best game. I think if we maintain this pattern and continue to work together, our constant improvements will help us play our best games during these important upcoming games.”
Mililani’s next game will be in the OIA girls varsity basketball tournament quarterfinals on Thursday, Jan. 23 at MHS.