Sabers Supremacy: Campbell Contains Moanalua Offense in OIA Division I Championship

By: Paul Brecht

MOANALUA — The Campbell Sabers used a stifling defense and runs in the second and third quarters to down Moanalua, 28-22, in the OIA Division I girls varsity basketball championship Wednesday night.  

“Defense is our bread and butter, we have the personnel to do it,” Campbell head coach Jazmine Corpuz said following the win. “We work on it a lot, work on a lot of defense, work on a lot of moving our feet.” 

That defense, especially on the perimeter on Moanalua guard Braylee Riturban, allowed Campbell to survive a rare nightmare shooting performance. 

“Hats off to Moanalua,” Corpuz continued. “They gave us a challenge, they pressured us and they made us stink. We haven’t had that in a while so I’m super proud of the girls for staying in it, sticking to what we know and staying within ourselves and battled.”  

Points were tough to come by all night, as evidenced by a 6-4 first quarter that saw the Sabers leading thanks to a pair of Julien Parado 3-pointers. Riturban struggled to get airspace in the opening period, getting her first points late in the action. 

She changed that in the second, knocking down a triple to give Na Menehune a 7-6 lead. Campbell went back ahead, 9-7, by the media timeout midway through the quarter but continued to find themselves limited in transition. 

Na Menehune threw a 1-2-2 zone defense at the Sabers throughout the first half, forcing outside shots that would not fall until the end of the first half.  

Campbell’s Taysia Molina-Schulte hit from long range from the top of the key right before halftime for the Sabers’ first 3-pointer since the game’s opening minutes, capping a 9-0 run to finish the period and head into the locker room up, 15-7.

The run continued into the third quarter, as Na Menehune opened in a man-to-man defense. Campbell got downhill penetration against Moanalua, extending the lead. 

Right as the Sabers seemed to be pulling away, Na Menehune calmly fought back once again and stayed within reach. By the media timeout midway through the fourth quarter, Moanalua had cut the lead down, 28-20, with 3:34 remaining and possession of the ball. 

A basket and critical stop later, Na Menehune looked to pull off a miracle on a night that points were coming at a premium. Another timeout by Moanalua head coach Kirk Ronolo set up a possession that could allow the East’s top seed to make it a one-possession game with over a minute a half left.  

“Tonight we were up and down on [capitalizing on possessions] but we were able to make it up on the defensive end,” Corpuz replied discussing her team’s second half effort. “You cannot have an off-day on defense. Offense will come, we will have off days on offense. Defense has got to be the same.” 

Campbell’s defense was on display, forcing a turnover by Moanalua coming out of the break and forcing Na Menehune to foul. Though the Sabers struggled at the line to close the game, the offensive rebounding presence of Campbell drained the waning seconds as the West’s Division I leaders claimed the title, 28-22.

Campbell forced 18 turnovers en route to victory and were led by Julien Parado’s 8 points and 11 rebounds. Aliyah Bantolina chipped in 6 points to go with a pair of steals, while Jaynalyn Sotelo and Taysia Molina-Schulte each had 5 points for the Sabers. 

Moanalua was paced by forward Akaecia Mateo’s 10 points and 9 rebounds. Braylee Riturban had 5 points, while Jamie Smith gave 4 points to go with 7 rebounds in Na Menehune loss. 

Each team now waits for the opening of the HHSAA Girls Basketball Division I state championship tournament, which will play the opening round on Monday, January 30. The state championship game is slated to be played at Stan Sheriff Center on Friday, February 3 at 7:00 PM HST. 

Photo by: Alan Velasco