MILILANI — Campbell coach Summer Aona wanted her team to show some heart and the Sabers responded by holding off No. 7 Mililani, 58-55, in the final stretch to hand the Trojans their first loss in league play at Mililani's gymnasium on Thursday night.
The Lady Sabers' road win snaps a two-game skid to improve to 2-2 in the Oahu Interscholastic Association Division I West standings while Mililani falls to 4-1.
"I think we have been talking about heart and what it means to have it. We have a talented bunch of kids, tonight was one of those nights where heart was transformed into action. They really wanted something," said Aona.
Gieani Balino finished the game with 24 points, four 3s, and six rebounds before fouling out at the 6:26 mark in the fourth quarter. Mililani coach Pat Basilio and coach Aona felt it changed the complexion of the game.
"I think so. I tried to tell them to slow the ball and work the clock. She has been trying to take charges all night, she's a good player, she's smart, but we have to work on being disciplined," said Aona.
"When you lose your best player, it changes the complexion of the game. We really tried to apply the pressure more, but I think we ran out of gas making the comeback," said Basilio.
The Trojans crept back into it after turning up the pressure to force Campbell turnovers. Kalena Gibson made the shot plus the foul, but could not convert the 3-point play as Mililani trailed, 53-50 with 3:48 left. Mililani faltered down the stretch as they could not get their field goals to fall and went 2-for-7 from the free throw line.
"I told them at the half that Mililani will come out rough and hungry. I knew that was going to happen, we worked a lot about listening and playing the game and I'm proud of them," said Aona.
"It shows the fight in this team, we had our chances but could not capitalize on a few possessions. Free throws have been our Achilles' (heel), I didn't really anticipate us to falter down the stretch like that. It is what it is and back to the drawing board," said Basilio.
Jasianna Ah Nee Green scored a late bucket in transition and Kimberlee Ung (10 points) and Danielle Silva (nine points) combined for 3-for-4 from the foul line to help Campbell ice the game.
"I tell myself, "They're all going to carry each other because that's how close we are. I know that if I don't do well, they got my back," said Balino.
Campbell started pulling away after Balino drained a couple 3's in the second quarter to score 10 of her 17 first half points. The Sabers sank six 3-pointers overall and led by as much as 11.
"I think it was about focusing more. The last time we had a hard time finishing. I think if we started out strong from the beginning, it would work and it did," said Balino.
"They were shooting lights out and it was difficult to defend when there were two or three girls knocking it down," said Basilio.
Aona felt Ah Nee Green was a big factor in the paint as she scored nine points and grabbed 12 rebounds. Mililani's post players Cheyenne Ardona and Janae Ritchie drew two quick fouls early in the game.
Campbell held a 35-27 lead at halftime, but the Trojans started the third on a 7-0 run to bring it within one, after free throws by Dahlis Sablay. She scored a team-high 18 points before fouling out with 56.8 seconds left in the fourth. Gibson added 10 points and had four steals.
The Sabers started pulling away and led by seven, 45-38 after Ung's 3-pointer. Sablay shot 4-for-4 from the free throw line to help bring Mililani back within four heading into the fourth.
Campbell will host Aiea (0-4) on Dec. 27. Mililani will host Radford (3-0), the West Division's lone unbeaten team on Dec. 29.
Trojans and Chargers to play for OIA supremacy 7 p.m. Tuesday at McKinley's Tiger Softball Stadium.
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