Logan Dias didn’t go very far to regain his confidence.
He just heard it directly from his basketball brothers. The 6-foot-1 swingman missed all eight of his shots in the first half as Maryknoll fell behind, 26-17, to rival Punahou on Tuesday night. In an empty gym at Maryknoll Community Center, the sound of those misses off iron can seem amplified.
“My team picked me up. They said, ‘Keep shooting. Don’t worry about it.’ I guess I made a couple of shots after that,” said Dias, who finished with 16 second-half points in a 52-50 win over the Buffanblu.
After halftime, Dias was 5-for-5 from the field and 4-for-4 from the line. He also corralled six rebounds. All it took was confidence and some sound advice from a Maryknoll sharpshooter from yesteryear.
“I told him, ‘You can get any shot you want. You don’t have to take the first one.’ There’s nobody in the state that can shoot better than this kid,” Spartans coach Kelly Grant said.
Micah Sakamoto added nine points and Justin Yap tallied eight points as Maryknoll won its ILH regular-season opener. Drake Watanabe had 11 points and Peyton Macapulay tallied 10 for the gritty Buffanblu.
“This game meant a lot to everyone. Before the game, coach Kelly told us Punahou is our rival, of course,” Dias said.
His 17-footer from the right elbow, a bit of a fadeaway, was all net to give Maryknoll the lead for good, 51-49, with 1:12 remaining.
“This win will bring us closer together. Every win is huge. We have to stay focused and stay on task,” Dias said.
Maryknoll utilized Dias’ versatility to maximum capacity. From the start, he was a key hub in their pressbreaker against Punahou’s 2-2-1 three-quarter court defense. Even as he struggled in the first half, he drove hard to the rack, doing all he could to get to the free-throw line.
Parker Grant, Sakamoto and Yap were also crucial in Maryknoll’s execution against the Punahou press. The Spartans finished with 11 turnovers.
“We run multiple pressbreakers to give the defense a different look every time. We have four or five options,” coach Grant said. “Parker did a good job handling the ball. He lost one late in the fourth quarter (on a slip), but other than that, he did good.”
Two of his buckets in the second half came from 3-point range, and as his confidence grew, the Spartans rode a wave of momentum. Tai Jones, a reserve post, was a difference maker on both ends. The 6-7 junior was steady defensively and finished with three points and two boards, all in the fourth quarter.
“He’s originally from Kapolei, went to the mainland and his mom wanted him to come back. He did a good job,” Grant said. “He came to us late, he’s new to our school. Our system is not simple to run, so he’s doing a good job.”
Starting center Zion Bruce, a 6-4 senior, had four points and five rebounds through three quarters.
The ILH boys schedule isn’t as compact as the girls slate. With seven teams in Division I, there will be two round-robins and a state-tournament berth for the first-place finisher.
“Punahou is a really good team. If we play that game 10 times, it would be 5-5. It was down to the wire,” Grant said. “We thought we saw a lot of their sets, but they ran some new stuff today. The first half, we were running all over the place, but once the kids are able to see it once or twice, we can make some adjustments at halftime.”
The game within the game included a battle between the talented guards on either side.
“Micah guards Peyton. They’ve been guarding each other since they were 10 years old,” Grant said. “It’s a little love-hate thing between them. Parker would be our best defender, but I don’t want to use too much of his energy because he uses it on the offensive side. Justin rose to the occasion defensively.”
Yap, who Grant considers Maryknoll’s purest shooter, had eight points including two treys. Punahou didn’t give him many open looks.
“He got beat on a backdoor on one play by Drake (Watanabe), but never again,” Grant said.
Opening with a rival, a neighbor from across the street, was special.
“I feel good. I don’t know if I get nervous for games because I feel like we prepare always,” said Grant, who led Kaimuki to a state title in 2007, and did the same with Maryknoll in ’19 and ’20. “I was just excited for the fact that it’s been two years since we got to play something like this.”