MILILANI – There was a wakeup call for Mililani and a rude awakening for No. 10 Radford.
Kalena Gibson and Kayla Torres each scored 10 points and the host Trojans downed the Rams, 40-29, Thursday night in Oahu Interscholastic Association Western Division girls' basketball.
Mililani, coming off a loss to Campbell last week, pulled into a tie for first in the West with Leilehua, both at 5-1, and handed the Rams (4-1) their first loss of the season.
"The Campbell game really woke (our players) up," Mililani coach Patrick Basilio said. "We had a good practice week leading to this game. I think the girls were hungry. They were ready."
But the Rams suffered more than a blemish in their record. They lost 6-foot-2 center Shaelie Burgess to a knee injury just three minutes, 30 seconds into the game. In that short span, she had two points and an offensive rebound.
"It's huge," Basilio said. "We lost Shantel (Appleby) the last two years. I know exactly how it feels. I feel for Radford and I hope she'll be OK."
Appleby, the Trojans' 6-0 post, had knee injuries her junior and senior years.
"That's huge for us because a lot of what we do goes through Shaelie," Radford coach Charles Chong said, "especially plugging up that middle with those long arms. That definitely was an issue tonight."
The extent of Burgess' injury will not be known until she gets a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of her knee Friday, Chong said. She sat the rest of the game, though was able to walk. But after the game, she left using crutches.
Without Burgess, who gave the Rams a 2-0 lead early, the Trojans went on a 10-0 run en route to a 12-6 lead after the first quarter. Turnovers by the Rams accounted for half the points. The Trojans opened their lead to 21-13 by the half.
The Rams managed to cut their deficit in the third, pulling to 25-21 at 1:20. But the Trojans expanded their lead when Taysia Canon scored off her own steal to make it 27-21.
The Rams' Natalie Jackson opened the fourth with a basket to pull the Rams to within four. But the Trojans used a 10-2 run on the strength of Gibson's three field goals in that stretch to put Mililani's lead into double digits.
It was Jackson who had to fill Burgess' spot on the court. She did not disappoint. Besides her game-leading 11 points, she had two steals and three rebounds.
"With Shaelie out, everybody's going to have to step it up offensively and defensively," Chong said. "Natalie played a huge game – I think she still has a cold. She just battled. She took that center spot on both ends of the floor. We told her she has to be aggressive in the last couple week and on our trip to the Mainland. She really stepped up to the plate tonight."
On the other bench, another player that needed to step up her game was Gibson. Besides her 10 points, she had a steal and four rebounds.
"We actually challenged her at halftime," Basilio said. "She has so much potential, but she almost kind of waits back and lets some of the other girls step up, but we challenged her at halftime. We told her her time has to be now, especially at the high post, so we made an adjustment to put her in the high post. That's actually one of her sweet spots and she performed well for us."
Gibson had four points in the first half before exploding for six in the 10-2 run that sealed the game for the Trojans.
"My coach was telling me I wasn't playing up to my caliber and I needed to step up," Gibson said. "After, my teammates passed me the ball, they believed in me and that's all I needed to pull through."
The win helped ease the pain of the loss to Campbell.
"It feels really great compared to the last game," Gibson said. "We lost to Campbell last week and that made us really push through. It just prepared us for tonight."
The Trojans play at Pearl City on Tuesday and have a crucial game at Leilehua on Jan. 7. The Rams play at Waianae on Tuesday and host Nanakuli on Jan. 7
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