Maryknoll handles Kona in state title rematch

Could this be the year the Maryknoll Spartans breaks through and win a state championship? They are favored to do so by the Honolulu Star-Advertiser girls basketball top 10 voters. Paul Honda/Star-Advertiser (Nov. 11, 2017)

Revenge game, not quite.

The Maryknoll Spartans, healthy, deep and talented, left no doubt about supremacy on Saturday afternoon with a 56-37 win over defending state champion Konawaena. The Spartans completed their run in the McKinley Black and Gold Classic with a 3-0 record. They went 2-0 at the Moanalua Peek Tournament, using reserves and junior-varsity players.

Maryknoll has lost to Konawaena in the last two Division I state championship games.

“The day belonged to us, but it’s November. Our kids played well, but by no means is this some kind of accomplishment,” Maryknoll coach Chico Furtado said. “Our younger group got to play a few minutes. They’re a fun group. They don’t have size, but they can do other things.”

Isabella Cravens continued her strong play, challenging attackers at the basket, scoring on the low post and hitting open teammates, particularly from the high post. She double-doubled against Konawaena — 11 points and 10 rebounds — while point guard Rhianne Omori added nine points. Kodee Viena scored 10 points off the bench, and Kamalu Kamakawiwo‘ole and Moe Notoa chipped in seven each. Starter Chayse Milne did not play due to driver’s education class.

“We feel good. Confident. We have a lot to work on, but it’s a good start for us. Now that we’re all older and more mature, there’s a sense of trust as teammates on and off the court,’ said Cravens, a 6-foot-1 senior. “That trust and unselfishness is important for the betterment of the team.”

Konawaena played its usual man-to-man defense beginning to end.

“Because it was man defense, it was harder and we had to move the ball, and again it’s the trust and unselfishness,” said Cravens, who showed excellent court vision and passing skills this week.

Konawaena got 21 points from returning Star-Advertiser All-State player of the year Cherilyn Molina. Half the team are freshmen and sophomores, and with one key returnee back home due to illness, the Wildcats were finding their identity. Fatigue may have been a factor in a muggy gym. Inexperience as a team is partly why Coach Bobbie Awa brought her team to Oahu. Sophomore Caiyle Kaupu was strong defensively, but didn’t attack offensively until the final quarter. She scored seven of her nine points in the final stanza while Cravens was on the bench.

The lack of backcourt depth took a toll. Mikayla Tablit guarded Omori most of the way and was superb defensively through the tourney. The long minutes added up, though, and she finished with four points against Maryknoll. Even when the ‘Cats return home and Tanniya Uchida is back to full health, that’s just nine on the roster. It’s been this way for most years, yet hasn’t stopped Konawaena from winning eight of the last 14 state titles.

This year, though, could be and should be the Lady Spartans’ year.

“I think if we trust each other, stay focus and never get satisfied, we can go far,” Omori said.

The busy game schedule comes to a halt after today. Maryknoll will have two weeks off until their next game. The Spartans host Kahuku on Nov. 25 and Waiakea on Nov. 29 before they enter the ‘Iolani Classic in early December. A week after that, Maryknoll flies to Las Vegas to play in the Tarkanian Classic.

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