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Hawaii's Chanelle Molina And Sisters: Three For The Win

Chanelle Molina, right, says she and her sisters Celena Jane, left, and Cherilyn, middle, will be a package deal when it comes time to select a college. Courtesy Roselyn Molina

During the summer of her freshman year, Chanelle Molina won an MVP trophy for ripping up the competition in her bracket of the highly regarded End of the Trail AAU tournament in Oregon.

Molina's reaction?

She quickly said, "thank you" and stuffed the trophy in her bag, putting the shiny hardware out of view.

"I was kind of embarrassed," said Molina, a 5-foot-6 point guard who will be a senior this fall at Konawaena (Kealakekua, Hawaii). "I was super honored, and my teammates said I deserved it, but I'm not the one to go around showing off. To me, everyone on my team deserved the MVP."

Molina, the No. 44 prospect in the espnW HoopGurlz Top 100 for the 2016 class, earns many trophies. She is the reigning two-time Gatorade Player of the Year in Hawaii and a three-time Big Island Interscholastic Federation Player of the Year.

Still, her humility, which was instilled in her by her family, school and community, shines through. And she wishes more athletes would embrace the team concept.

"When I see players who act arrogantly, I get disgusted," she said. "I don't like seeing people like that -- it makes me not want to watch them. That attitude is not fun to watch."

Konawaena coach Bobbie Awa said Molina's selflessness is genuine.

"She doesn't boast," Awa said. "She knows that if you're cocky, it can come back to slap you in the face."

Awa, however, cautioned not to confuse humility with weakness.

"She plays to win all the time," Awa said. "She loves winning and is very driven and confident. She knows when the game gets down to the wire, the ball needs to be in her hands. She will put the team on her back - 'You ride with me' -- but she is not selfish."

Humble but hyped

Awa, who has coached in Hawaii for more than two decades, said Molina is one of the top five players to come out of the island -- with the potential to be the best all around.

Fran Villarmia-Kahawai, who coaches Team Aloha, which is a selection of the top 10 or so girls in the state, was immediately impressed with Molina the first time she saw her.

"I was blown away," said Villarmia-Kahawai, who met Molina during the player's freshman year. "I thought, 'This girl can be one of the best players to come out of Hawaii.'

"She runs fast, jumps high, and she understands the game and is willing to work hard to get better."

Molina, her school's team captain, averaged 17.1 points, 8.8 rebounds, 7.1 assists and 3.1 steals this past season. Her production led Konawaena to a 33-1 record and a Division I state title.

But she had help, and a lot of it came from her own house -- sisters Celena Jane and Cherilyn.

Celena Jane is a 5-8 post player who will be a junior this fall, and Cherilyn is a 5-4 point guard who will be a sophomore. Cherilyn is highly competitive and always wants to guard Chanelle in practice.

The three sisters led Konawaena to a state volleyball title in November and then added the basketball championship in the same school year.

All three girls have been offered basketball scholarships by schools such as Washington State and Hawaii, but just which one will be the best player when all is said and done?

"Celena is out of the question," Chanelle said with a laugh. "She's more of a volleyball player. It will probably come down to me and Cherilyn."

Chanelle, who has a 3.57 GPA, is interested in studying physical therapy or sports medicine. She said she would prefer to go to a school on the mainland.

The universities she is most interested in are Washington State, Oregon State, Arizona State and Oregon.

"No matter where I go," Chanelle said, "my sisters want to follow me. We're like a package deal."

Cul-de-sac kids

The girls' parents, Allan and Roselyn, were born in the Philippines. The couple has four children, including the youngest, son Coby, a 10-year-old who also plays basketball.

As the oldest, Chanelle started playing first, and she was introduced to the game by her uncles, who would come shoot hoops in the front yard of their cul-de-sac neighborhood.

Chanelle was 10 when she began playing, and it seemed every day a different uncle came over to play her one-on-one. And none of them would take it easy on her.

"They would keep pushing me," Chanelle said. "I think that's why some people say I play like a boy."

The uncles would win those early games, and they still come over and play every chance they get.

"Oh, yeah, for sure," Chanelle said when asked if she now beats her uncles. "They're proud of me, but it's probably bittersweet for them because the story is out there that I'm beating them."

If it makes the uncles feel any better, Chanelle beats up on a lot of opponents these days.

That was certainly the case this past winter, when Konawaena upset two of the nation's top teams in Hawaii's annual Iolani Classic.

First up, Konawaena upset Miramonte (Orinda, California), 63-62. Miramonte was led by 5-11 point guard Sabrina Ionescu, the No. 6 prospect in the Class of 2016.

Ionescu and Chanelle engaged in a classic shootout. Ionescu won the battle, putting up 39 points, 17 rebounds, six steals, five assists and three blocks. But Chanelle, who had an efficient 27 points on 9-of-15 shooting to go with seven assists and six rebounds, won the game.

The next night, Konawaena upset No. 17 Riverdale Baptist (Upper Marlboro, Maryland) 49-41. Riverdale had four girls who were 6-foot-1 or taller while Konawaena's team, which was missing its center, averaged 5-5 in height. Chanelle had 20 points, 16 rebounds and five assists in that game.

"The gym was packed," Villarmia-Kahawai said. "People were amazed."

In the tournament's championship game, Konawaena finally lost, falling 68-59 to St. Mary's (Stockton, California), which finished the season ranked third in the espnW Power 25 rankings. Chanelle had 17 points, 15 rebounds, nine assists, four steals and two blocks, and was named the tournament's MVP. The trophy, in true Chanelle Molina style, was quickly stashed away.

"I think Chanelle is good enough to be a potential Team USA player," Awa said. "People from the outside say the baby Molina girl [Cherilyn] will be the best of the three, but I think it's Chanelle because she has the heart and the drive.

"Chanelle is a special player."