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Pearl City all charged up about OIA hoops season


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POSTED: Friday, December 25, 2009

SECOND IN A SERIES

They've been broken-hearted before, but this season's Pearl City girls basketball squad has a little more surge in its game.

Pearl City's girls are off to an electrifying start with a senior core that has played together, in some cases, since their freshman and sophomore seasons.

That's good news for eighth-year coach Mike Morton. In an OIA season without a dominant front-runner, anything is possible for a program that has never won a league title. The Chargers are No. 9 in the Star-Bulletin Girls Basketball Preseason Top 10.

“;I think we can win the West,”; Morton said. “;It's all mental, and we're getting mentally stronger. Physically, we're strong. We have good chemistry and the girls are working hard. It's all about knowing what to do in certain situations.”;

On paper: Pearl City is 10-2 overall and 3-0 in league play. The Chargers' biggest nonconference win was over Maui Interscholastic League power Molokai, the defending Division II state champion.

Their two losses were both against Waiakea, once on the Big Island and again at Moanalua's tourney.

Seniors Keshia Manning and Alana Kaili anchor the low post, and Glacen Florita and Jordan Ahakuelo give Pearl City experience and marksmanship from the perimeter.

The skinny: The Chargers can run and are one of the best shooting teams in the OIA. They can also play at a slower tempo. After scoring 61 points in a win at Waianae, they came back two days later and embraced the grind of a 35-33 win over a tough Kapolei squad.

Last year's team was 7-4 in league play before falling at home to Campbell on a last-second shot. The Chargers then scored just 19 points in a playoff loss to the East's sixth seed, Moanalua. Florita (ankle) didn't play in that game, and Pearl City was eliminated.

X factor: Shooters get hot and cold, but the Chargers have a commitment to defense. Against Molokai and its tremendous 6-foot-1 center, Kalei Adolpho, the Chargers double- and triple-teamed her on the low post, and still closed out on open shooters just enough in a 34-28 win.