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Prep Football Preview Special
Prep Football Preview
Game of the Week
Kalani Takase | ScoringLiveJanuary 14, 2022, 12:17am
Thu, Jan 13, 2022 @ Campbell
EWA BEACH — Aliyah Bantolina hit a runner in the lane with just over a second remaining to help Campbell edge visiting Radford, 39-37, in a meeting of unbeaten teams in the Oahu Interscholastic Association's Western Division Thursday night.
The Sabers (6-0) leap-frogged the Rams (6-1) at the very top of the seven-team OIA Division I West standings with the victory — their first by fewer than 25 points this season — and are now in a tie with Mililani for first place.
"Most of our games have been blowouts so we haven't been able to challenge ourselves, so I really wanted this game to be close so we could challenge ourselves and get better," said Bantolina, a sophomore guard/post.
After Radford tied it at 37 on a basket by Khloe Williams with about 23 seconds to play, Campbell called timeout with 15.3 seconds left on the clock.
"We, as a team, made it very clear we want the last shot, we want it to be down to the wire," Bantolina said. "Because we could hold that ball to the wire because we still have overtime, so we were gonna try and hold that ball as long as we could."
After initially receiving the inbounds pass from Caitlyn Hosaka, Bantolina passed it off twice — first to Julien Parado and then to Hosaka — before she eventually got the ball back into her hands with about five seconds to play and a few feet beyond the arc. Bantolina took two dribbles and got around a defender before she pulled up from about 13 feet and made a bank shot to put the Sabers ahead for good.
"Once I passed it to Juju (Parado), I saw everybody shift and I was like, ‘gimme the ball. I'm ready, I'm ready; it's right there,' " said Bantolina, who scored seven of Campbell's 12 points in the fourth quarter.
The clock appeared to run out just after Bantolina's go-ahead bucket, but the officiating crew determined that Radford had called timeout before the final buzzer and one second was put back on the clock. Olena Umetsu heaved the ensuing inbounds pass some 50-plus feet in the direction of Angel Asaah, but Asaah was unable to gather the desperation pass from Umetsu and consequently the time ran out before the Rams were able to get a shot off.
"We were getting pretty excited because we thought the game was over, but having the one second left we had to pull it all together and then just play the best D we could to stop them from scoring in that one second," said Parado, who hit four of Campbell's six 3-pointers Thursday and finished with a team-high 14 points.
It was Parado's defense, however, that set the tone early for the Sabers. The very first shot attempt of the game — a high-percentage shot by Rams' veteran post Angel Asaah — was blocked by Parado, Asaah was able to collect the ball and scored on a putback, but the impact of the block was pivotal, Bantolina said.
"It kind of just hyped everybody up and pushed everybody to ‘let's go, this is game time, we're here to play, let's go,' " she explained.
Bantolina drained her first 3-pointer of the game with 5:33 left in the second quarter, which gave Campbell its largest lead of the game at 17-12.
The Rams chipped away and eventually pulled ahead with 2:36 left in the third quarter after Khloe Williams made a pair of free throws to cap a 7-0 Radford run that coincided with a 2-3 zone on the defensive end of the floor.
"Our girls are so excited, so eager and the style of play that they're used to is so fast paced and uptempo, so it was good," Campbell coach Jazmine Corpuz said.
"It was good that we had the challenge with the zone. Up until now we kind of never had too much challenge in the zone and I think that's what kind of slowed us down and threw us off a little bit, but we definitely have the players to be able to make the adjustments and this was a prevailing game to motivate them to do those things," Corpuz added.
The score was tied at 27 after three quarters.
The Sabers scored the next five points on a Parado 3-pointer and a Bantolina bucket inside a few possession later, but the Rams surged ahead, 33-32, with a 6-0 run that was ignited by an Asaah basket — her only points of the second half.
"For the second half I was guarding Angel, so I really had to keep her in front of me and I know she was pushing on me and she's a little bigger than me and stronger, so I just had to try and guard her as best as I could and trust that the help was behind me," Parado said.
Campbell pulled ahead, 35-33, with a Bantolina triple at the 1:22 mark of the game. Radford evened the score with 23 seconds to play on a Williams basket off an assist by Jirah Villanueva before the Sabers called timeout with 15.3 seconds remaining.
"It felt good; we needed it. We needed the pressure, we needed the opportunity to test ourselves and obviously it showed that we need to work on stuff," Corpuz said. "We did just enough and now we gotta go back to the drawing board and it gives us an opportunity to know the things that we need to work on."
Bantolina finished with 11 points. She attempted the only two free throws for Campbell Thursday night (1 for 2). Taysia Molina-Shulte scored eight points and Sydney Patanapaiboon contributed six points off the bench in the win.
"It was a very good game and we had a game plan and I think to a certain degree it worked, but you just gotta hand it to Campbell; they just have a high-octane, high-synergy team, they play well together, they move the ball, they understand spacing and so they just forced us into a zone and we just tried to play just trying to plug the middle and make them prove it from the outside," Radford coach Charles Chong said.
Mailana Mattos scored a team-high 14 points and Villanueva tallied 10 for the Rams, who were 5 off 11 on free throws.
Asaah was held to seven points in the loss.
Campbell led at halftime, 22-18.
Both teams next play on Wednesday. The Rams will host Waipahu (2-3), while the Sabers will visit the Trojans (6-0) in a matchup of first-place teams.
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