Aliyah Pana Named Gatorade State Girls Basketball POTY
It was a surprise announcement that couldn’t be kept quiet.
Hilo High School girls basketball head coach Ben Pana got an e-mail Wednesday night that made him proud not only as a coach, but also as a father. He shared the news with his assistant coaches and planned to have the announcement come on as a surprise during a break in school.
The good news? His daughter, junior guard Aliyah Pana, was named Gatorade State Girls High School Basketball Player of the Year for her play during the 2012-2013 season. And, like a defense’s inability to stop her from getting to the basket, no one was able to stop themselves from telling her the great news.
The award recognized the overall work of a student athlete in each individual sport, including grade point average and community service work. Pana excelled in both, achieving a 4.0 GPA and being a volunteer with the Special Olympics as a basketball coach. She has also done work with the Huiana Internship Program.
On the court, Pana led all scorers during the Hawaiian Airlines / Hawai`i High School Athletic Association Girls Basketball Championships by scoring 20 points per game in Division I competition. She was also named to the All-Tournament Team.
During Big Island Interscholastic Federation play, the fearless junior guard averaged 12.7 points and 7.9 rebounds per game. She also averaged three steals and nearly two assists, showing her all-around versatility.
In a statement released by Gatorade, Hilo High School athletic director Sondra Lundvick praised her hard work. “Not only is she an exceptional athlete and role model, she is highly organized and detail-oriented. She is very humble and accomplishes everything with great initiative and a very positive attitude.”
Hilo High went undefeated in the regular season against East Hawai`i competition. They lost in the league championship game to eventual state runner-up Konawaena. State champion Kamehameha-Kapalama defeated the Vikings in the state semifinals, but Hilo rebounded the following afternoon to knock off Iolani in the third place game to finish the season with a 19-3 overall record. Their only other loss came to Mililani in the Waiakea High School Invitational on November 29.
The Vikings had no seniors on their squad last season, meaning that the Vikings have a realistic shot at not only a league championship, but a state championship in the 2014 season.