Kordel Ng scored 16 points, including a free throw with 5.4 seconds left, as No. 2 Kamehameha edged No. 1 Maryknoll 46-43 on Tuesday night at Kekuhaupio Gymnasium.
After Ng’s free throw, Maryknoll advanced the ball to halfcourt, using two time outs. With 2.5 seconds left, inbounds passer Justin Yap misfired as Sage Tolentino, their 7-footer, waited for the ball. Kamehameha dribbled out the final ticks on the clock.
“I feel good. Right now, our finishing is a little suspect. We started off pretty slow, too,” said Ng, who came down with a cold recently. “We’ve got to come back and work tomorrow, and get ready for Damien.”
The Warriors had a losing record in league play last season, but returned one of the most experienced and talented teams in the state.
“Nobody plays a a perfect game, but do you have that toughness and the mental fortitude to keep playing,” Kamehameha coach Larry Park said. “We tried to keep (Maryknoll) off the foul line. That game at Kaimuki (Invitational), they were 21-for-25 there.”
Maryknoll finished 18-for-24 at the charity stripe. Half of the attempts came in the final quarter.
This was the ILH regular-season opener for Kamehameha (14-5 overall), which had lost to Maryknoll in the final of the Kaimuki Invitational on Dec. 14.
“Our boys are unbelievable. They battled. They didn’t shoot the ball well in that first half, but they kept battling and they found a way to pull it off in the end. Made just enough free throws. Made just enough stops,” Park said.
The Warriors also got 12 points from Christmas Togiai, who fouled out with 11.5 seconds to play.
Niko Robben and Tolentino scored 16 points each to lead Maryknoll (18-2, 2-1 ILH). Tolentino sat with foul trouble for much of the game.
It was a hairy finish for Kamehameha after a robust surge to start the fourth quarter. Bailey Lee scored on a layup and Ng drove for a bucket, and after Paliku Kamaka banked in a 3, the home team had a 36-31 lead.
After Xavier Lever drove past Tolentino for a layup, the Warriors led 38-31 with 2:55 remaining. Togiai scored on a fastbreak drive for Kamehameha’s biggest lead, 42-34, with 1:35 left.
After Preston Ponteras missed a corner 3, Maryknoll chipped away and brought the lead down to 45-41 on Robben’s wing 3 with 38.1 seconds to go.
After two foul shots by Noah Furtado, the visiting Spartans were within 45-43 with 11.5 seconds left. Reserve Logan Dias then took the ball away from Ponteras in the backcourt and had a baseline lane open for a drive, but he threw the ball out of bounds. Kamehameha regained possession with 7 seconds left.
“When Logan got the steal, I should’ve called time out. We still had three,” Maryknoll coach Kelly Grant said.
Ng then made one of two foul shots with 5.4 seconds left. Maryknoll never got another field-goal attempt up.
Kamehameha shot 8-for-12 from the free-throw line in the final quarter. Maryknoll was 7-for-11.
“They played better than us,” Grant said. “It hurt us when Sage got that fourth foul, and all of them were touch fouls, but we’ve got to make plays down the stretch. Kamehameha has all the pieces to win. They’re a complete team.”
The Warriors will take the win.
“Every team is different. Every year is different. As we go through these experiences, we learn and grow together,” Park said. “We go through late-game situations at practice a lot.”
Kamehameha will host No. 3 Damien on Thursday. Maryknoll entertains No. 6 Mid-Pacific, also on Thursday.