By: Wes Nakama
The Campbell girls basketball team set out to literally defend its OIA championship Wednesday night, and did it by shutting down Moanalua, 28-22.
An energetic crowd of about 600 at Moanalua Gym and a statewide live TV audience on Spectrum OC16 watched the Sabers limit Na Menehune to seven points in the first half and improve to 15-4 overall and finish a perfect 13-0 in league play. Campbell also earned the OIA’s top seed and automatic first-round bye in next week’s state tournament.
Moanalua (16-5, 13-1) will begin state tournament play in Monday’s first round, with the opponent and site to be named later this week.
“It’s definitely an honor, not only taking this title but having the opportunity to go back to states and compete with the ILH teams and outer island teams, because I know they compete super hard,” said Campbell senior Julien Parado, who led the Sabers with eight points and 11 rebounds. “I can’t wait to see how we do.”
The Sabers reached the state semifinals last season, falling to eventual champion ‘Iolani. Campbell dominated the OIA this season, winning all but two games by 20 points or more. On Wednesday night, the Sabers were dominant especially on the defensive end in the second period, when they held Na Menehune scoreless in the final seven minutes, 21 seconds in using a 9-0 run to take a 15-7 halftime lead.
“One word for that defense — stifling,” Moanalua coach Kirk Ronolo said. “Shout out to them, they worked hard, they put in the work and prevented us from getting into our flow … that 9-0 run was a backbreaker.”
The defensive dominance continued into the third period when Campbell opened the second half with an 11-3 run capped by Jaynalen Sotelo’s 3-pointer from the right corner which gave the Sabers a 26-10 lead with 2:26 remaining in the quarter. Na Menehune then responded with their own 9-0 run, ending with Akaecia Mateo’s 3-pointer to cut the deficit to 26-19 two minutes into the fourth period. Taysia Molina-Schultz then scored on a layup to stretch the lead to 28-19 with 5:39 left.
Mateo cut it to 28-20 by making one of two free throws, and Jamie Smith scored on a layup to make it 28-22 with 3:09 still to play. Campbell then kept the door open by missing three straight front-ends of a 1-and-1 bonus, but those resulted in a steal and two offensive rebounds to prevent Moanalua from capitalizing, and the Sabers were ultimately able to run out the clock.
“Hats off to Moanalua, they gave us a challenge and they pressured us and made us think,” Campbell coach Jazzy Corpuz said. “I’m super proud of our girls, for staying in it, sticking to what we know and staying within ourselves. It’s been a situational thing at practice, because we know that in the postseason, and going into the state tournament, all the teams are tough. And tonight Moanalua was tough. We gotta be able to handle the pressure, handle the ball, and still capitalize on the possessions we have.
“Tonight we were up-and-down on the capitalizing, but we were able to make it up on the defensive end, and that’s what we’ve been preaching. We cannot have an off game on defense, there’s no off days on defense. Offense will come, we’ll have off days on offense, but defense gotta be the same.”
Mahalo to City Mill for sponsoring our high school basketball photo gallery and for supporting local sports in Hawaii.