By BILL O’REAR
Tribune-Herald sports editor
If Pahoa High School’s girls basketball team is going to rise in the Division II standings this season, sisters Randi and Ranchell Berinobis will need to step up and lead the way.
The promising siblings are blessed with athletic talent, solid basketball skills and a competitive fire that can only help the young Daggers as they battle other Big Island Interscholastic Federation D-II teams this season.
Randi is a 5-foot-9 junior who can play inside or out, handle the ball and yank down rebounds, and she’s an excellent perimeter shooter, one of the better ones on the Big Island.
Ranchell is a 5-6 sophomore guard with similar game skills and a smooth outside shot that gives Pahoa a dangerous one-two scoring combination. That’s good news for the Daggers head coach, Randy Berinobis, the father of the team’s top players.
“We’ve got a really young team this year,” the Pahoa coach said. “We only have three returnees with playing experience and the rest of the players are in their first year of basketball. But we have good team chemistry, and the main thing is for the girls to keep getting better.
“I’ve told the girls it’s not about the wins and losses, it’s more about progress and that we get better every time we play. I like what I see in the girls, and I’m looking forward to the future with them. This year, we also have a junior varsity team. It’s the first time we’ve had one in six years, so just getting everyone to show improvement at both the varsity and junior varsity levels is important for the program.”
And when he looks at his nine-player varsity roster, he sees various roles for each Dagger.
“I need my daughters to be the leaders,” coach Berinobis said. “They’re the returnees along with Vanessa (Castro) and have basketball experience. But with such a young team, we’re taking it one day at a time. I’ve told the girls ‘We’re going to make some mistakes, but it’s OK if we just learn from them.’
“Our goal is to get better every day and hopefully be peaking in the playoffs.”
Randi Berinobis agrees with her father.
“We’re a young team and have a lot to learn,” she said. “We want to get better and gain confidence in what we’re trying to do.”
Castro is a 5-2 sophomore guard and will be counted on to provide leadership and an all-around game to help the Daggers.
Sisters Erleen and Ernell Oguma are athletic and should improve as they get more game experience. Erleen is a 5-6 sophomore and Ernell a 5-7 senior. Sophomore Lohe Kaawaloa, a 5-10 forward, gives Pahoa size in the middle while Dely Laguardie (5-3 junior), Macey Mokuhalii (5-4 sophomore) and Darcy Salmo (4-10 junior) will provide the Daggers with steady perimeter play.
Coach Berinobis points to defending D-II champion Kamehameha as the team to beat in the BIIF this year.
“Division II is balanced this year, but Kamehameha is the reigning champion,” the Dagger coach said. “I think they’re the favorites. But Honokaa is tough and I’ve heard Hawaii Prep has a tall team.
“But for us, it’s about building for the future. We just want to improve every day and see what happens. If we can do that and help build the program up, I’ll be happy.”
Berinobis is assisted by Naha Kaawaloa, who also oversees the school’s JV squad.
Both teams competed Friday in the Keaau High Girls Basketball Jamboree at the Cougars gym. The event wraps up today with games running from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
First day scores:
• Varsity: Hilo 28, Kamehameha 24; Keaau 29, Pahoa 10; Honokaa 48, Ka’u 5; Kealakehe 22, Pahoa 20.
• JV: Kamehameha 26, Pahoa 14; Hilo 45, Kealakehe 1; Ka’u 12, Laupahoehoe 7.