Sablay’s 20 carries Mililani past Kahuku, 57-44
Mililani freshman point guard Dahlis Sablay puts up a shot attempt against Kahuku. Michael Lasquero | SL
MILILANI — Dahlis Sablay might be the smallest girl on the court, but her contributions were huge for Mililani as she scored 20 points to lead the Trojans past Kahuku, 57-44, in the Oahu Interscholastic Association Division I quarterfinals at Mililani High.
"Dahlis is about energy when she plays. The thing I love about her is as good of a shooter she is, she's always looking for that extra pass. She's so smart and savvy basketball-wise," said Mililani coach Patrick Basilio.
Mililani (9-2) advances to the semifinals to face the East's top-seed Kaimuki (10-1) on Tuesday, Jan. 24 and in the process lock up a state tournament berth. Kahuku (8-4) plays Radford (9-3) and will need to win for one of the two remaining berths.
Mililani caught Kahuku off guard defensively on the backside as Kalena Gibson and Hope Carter were open to score four quick points and the Raiders called timeout at 7:09. The Trojans pushed it to 12-4 after Kayla Torres banked a 3-pointer and Kahuku called another timeout.
"Kahuku runs that 1-3-1and we were practicing that backside," said Sablay.
"We were working on that all week. We showed them were the openings were and ball movement was key. They executed it," said Basilio.
Carter lost part of her tooth as she fell after being tangled up while going for a loose ball at the 3:30 mark and was done for the game and Sablay, picked up two quick fouls, which forced coach Basilio to go to his bench earlier than usual.
Despite the setbacks, Mililani raced out to a 22-7 first quarter lead.
Brittni Blake (13 points) got the Red Raiders on the scoreboard, but the team struggled from the field as they scored 15 points in the first half.
"I'm not sure what it was. We were off in the beginning and missing easy shots. On defense, they weren't communicating and we switched up our personnel. At halftime, we talked about having heart and digging deep," said Kahuku coach Latoya Wily.
The Trojans, who led by as much as 17, saw that lead dwindle as Kahuku came out strong and aggressive in the third quarter. Savanna Christensen popped jumpers from all over the court to score eight points and had a drive just before the buzzer to bring the deficit within single digits, 39-30 heading into the fourth. She scored 12 of her team-high 16 points in the second half.
"Savanna is one of our key players. When she's on and she's doing what she's supposed to. She was carrying us offensively and finding the opening gaps," said Wily.
The momentum swung toward the visiting Red Raiders as Blake's rebound and putback brought it within six, 43-37, but for every point Kahuku scored, Mililani answered back.
"That was to be expected. That's what I told them that good teams don't go away. Kahuku scratched and clawed and cut it down, but our girls stayed the course and never wavered," said Basilio.
Kayla Torres, who added 17 points for the Trojans, hit a pair of free throws and a timely 3-pointer. Sablay, who's only a freshman, showed poise to knock down 8 of 10 free throws to extend the lead back to double digits to put it away. Mililani shot 21-for-29 from the line overall.
"We always shoot free throws and coach remind us that free throws and layups are the main thing in the game," said Sablay.
"She plays with so much composure, with the composure of a senior," said Basilio. "We stressed that (free throws) and I think the girls realized the importance of it. They stepped up, knocked it down, and I told them it becomes contagious when they hit it."