Manumalo Flames win 2016- 17 ASHSAA JV Girls’ Basketball championship

blue@samoanews.com

The 2016-2017 ASHSAA Junior Varsity Girls’ Basketball championship title is now at the Home of the Flames in Malaeimi, something that nobody thought would ever happen, especially for a team that only hopped on board late last year.

Manumalo Academy is known for its academic achievements in territorial competitions. Strict Christian values and a strenuous workload for students is the norm there. For the school to win anything in athletics is the farthest thing from anyone’s mind. 

Nobody ever expected the private school to force its way through the American Samoa High School Athletics Association’s ranks and come home victorious, especially in their first ever season competing against other local high schools.

Flames head coach Margaritta Viena, a second year teacher at the school, summed up their season in one word: “underdogs.”

And after such an exciting season, the term really seems like an understatement.

“When the season first started, we didn’t expect to be champions,” Viena told Samoa News yesterday, adding that for the girls on the team, this was their first time playing in an ‘organized basketball’ program and some of them didn’t even know how to dribble or make a lay-up.

But that was back in December. Fast forward four months later and the same group of ‘amateur’ players have done the unthinkable. 

Up until last week, the team was undefeated. Their first loss – only by two points — was handed to them by the Faga’itua High School Vikings last week.

Manumalo’s team record for its first season in the ASHSAA program is 8 wins, 1 loss, and 1 tie.

“These girls have grown so much since the formation of the team late last year,” Head Coach Viena shared. “Going from not really knowing anything about basketball to becoming champions is great and shows how awesome their progress is.”

Viena is no stranger on the court. She has played basketball most of her life and was part of the American Samoa National Women’s Basketball Team that represented the territory in the 2015 South Pacific Games during which they came home with the silver medal.

“There were many people who didn’t believe we would ever make it this far but we did,” she said of the Flames. 

Unlike other local high schools, Manumalo only has a total enrollment of 29 students, hence the inclusion of elementary level girls in the team.

Three of the ten players on the Flames squad are 8th graders and one is in 7th grade.

The team closed off its remarkable season with a 26-13 victory over the Samoana Sharks last Friday. And because none of the players are seniors, expect to see the same names on next year’s roster when Manumalo defends its title.

Congratulations Flames!

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