`For nearly four quarters, all was quite well for the Kalaheo Mustangs.
Then it wasn’t. Maryknoll rallied in the second half and held on for a thrilling 49-41 overtime win over the Mustangs in the opening round of the Snapple/HHSAA Boys Basketball State Championships in Division I.
Kalaheo had the right game plan for a Maryknoll team that was 10-1 at home coming into the state tourney. Even with 6-foot-4 senior Bobby Thompson sidelined (wrist injury), the Mustangs gave the Spartans their toughest home game since Kamehameha won at Clarence T.C. Ching Gymnasium on Jan. 25.
“He had a really good team going into the season,” Maryknoll coach Kelly Grant said of his counterpart, Rob Pardini. “It’s just unfortunate that (Thompson) got injured. It really screws up your timing, what you want to run.”
Only one Hawaii team beat Maryknoll: Kamehameha. Kalaheo almost became the second.
“I like ‘em,” Pardini said of Maryknoll. “They’re patient and very good in situational stuff. I’m also proud of our boys. They played hard. We just didn’t execute when it really counted. We gave stuff away at the end.”
By the end, Kalaheo’s Kanoa Smith (16 points), Andrew Jones (nine points), Ryan Owens (seven) and Pono Browne fouled out. In a game so evenly played, charging fouls made a huge difference in the late minutes of regulation. Maryknoll’s Reggie Eiland (two) and Noah Furtado (one) took the full brunt of Kalaheo’s attacks while the visitors were still up by two points in the late going of regulation.
Pardini could only hope as his team missed opportunities to open the lead.
“I’d have to watch film a little bit, but that’s hard for us,” Pardini said. “Those charges, you’ve got to come to a two-foot stop. We’ve been screaming about it all season long. First it was Luke (Pardini), then Kanoa.
Those defensive stops prevented Kalaheo from opening a four-point lead in the final minutes of regulation.
“Reg took two charges before mine, so I had to follow his lead,” Furtado said. “Coach (Grant) isn’t big on speeches, so we were talking to each other about jumping on them right away in OT.”
The charging foul is more fun than a dunk for the Spartans. More useful, for sure, though Niko Robben’s final points came on a breakaway dunk in the final minute of OT.
“That was one of our game plans. We talked about blocking out and taking charges. Charges are a game changer. You get (the other team) a foul and the ball,” Grant added.
Furtado also had a key steal and layup to begin the extra period. He finished with eight points, four rebounds, four assists and two steals. His work was also helpful early while Robben (16 points) sat after an opening-quarter ankle injury.
“Noah is a cross country runner, so he’s got the lungs. He probably ran five miles today,” Grant said. “I asked him if he wants tomorrow off and he said, ‘Coach, probably not.’ He’s a hard worker, man.”
There were all kinds of key adjustments for both teams. Kalaheo, using height, length and the solid presence of the 6-foot-5 Jones in the paint, embraced the slower pace as well as any team that played in Ching Gymnasium.
“It’s amazing how comfortable Pardini is. He doesn’t look like there’s anything happening. He’s so comfortable with those situations. I talked to him after the game. That was impressive,” Grant said. “He had a really good team going into the season. It’s just unfortunate that Bobby (Thompson) got injured. It really screws up your timing, what you want to run.”
There was also the meniscus injury that Maryknoll senior Liko Soares played through in limited minutes. He finished with six points and didn’t miss a field-goal attempt or foul shot. The injury occurred in Maryknoll’s matchup with Punahou late in the regular season.
“Obviously, Kalaheo knew what was going on because they were running their bigs on rebounds and trying to beat him down the floor,” Grant said. “His senior presence on the floor makes a big difference. When he’s on the bench, he’s positive, talking to Irvin and talking to Sage, talking to all the younger guys. It’s like having an extra coach on the bench.”
Spartan fans had their fears. It has been one thriller after another as Maryknoll plays close to the vest game after game. Grant simply trusts his leaders. He expects clutch decisions and plays down the stretch.
“I was freaking out. People said you’ll blow (Kalaheo) out. You’re not going to blow out a Kalaheo team. That’s a senior team,” he said.
Now, they prepare for BIIF champion Kamehameha-Hawaii. The matchup will be at Moanalua on Wednesday.
“I’m watching their game from three years ago,” Grant said nearly an hour after Monday’s game. “Peyton (Grant, his older son) is going to have some stuff too. He got a chance to watch them play. We’ll see.”
In other first-round games Monday:
Leilehua 82, Waiakea 53
Logan Lasell and Landyn Jumawan combined for 39 points and hit eight 3-pointers to help the Mules roll over the host Warriors with their biggest margin of victory ever in a winners bracket game.
Jumawan added seven of 21 steals made by Leilehua (14-1), which advances to play No. 1 seed Kamehameha on Wednesday at 7 p.m. at McKinley.
Davon Newman added 13 points, six rebounds, six assists and four steals for the Mules while Kiai Apele had a team-high 16 points, four assists, three rebounds and two steals to lead Waiakea (10-4).
Damien 58, Lahainaluna 49
Jake Holtz finished with 20 points and eight rebounds to lead the Monarchs (9-7) into the quarterfinals against host OIA champion Moanalua on Wednesday at 7 p.m.
Hayden Bayudan had 10 points, four rebounds and two steals and Kenneth Mitchell chipped in eight points and eight rebounds off the bench for Damien, which played in its first Division I state-tournament game since 1974 and won its first game ever in the winner’s bracket in D-I.
Tre Rickard led three players in double figures with 17 points for the Lunas (12-2).
Kahuku def. Kaiser
HHSAA Division I State Tournament
|1||Feb. 17||Waiakea vs. Leilehua||Lei, 82-53||Waiakea|
|2||Feb. 17||Kahuku vs. Kaiser||Kah, 56-37||Kahuku|
|3||Feb. 17||Lahainaluna vs. Damien||DMS, 58-49||Lahainaluna|
|4||Feb. 17||Maryknoll vs. Kalaheo||Mryk, 49-41 (OT)||Maryknoll|
|5||Feb. 19||(1) Kamehameha vs. Leilehua||KSK, 72-43||McKinley|
|6||Feb. 19||(4) Baldwin vs. Kahuku||Kah, 64-53||McKinley|
|7||Feb. 19||(2) Moanalua vs. Damien||DMS, 64-57||Moanalua|
|8||Feb. 19||(3) KS-Hawaii vs. Maryknoll||Mryk, 61-32||Moanalua|
|9*||Feb. 20||Moanalua vs. KS-Hawaii||Moan, 73-61||Stan Sheriff Center|
|10*||Feb. 20||Leilehua vs. Baldwin||Bald, 73-54||Stan Sheriff Center|
|11||Feb. 20||Damien vs. Maryknoll||Mryk, 57-40||Stan Sheriff Center|
|12||Feb. 20||Kamehameha vs. Kahuku||KSK, 48-39||Stan Sheriff Center|
|13*||Feb. 21||Moanalua vs. Baldwin||Moan, 64-52||Stan Sheriff Center|
|14*||Feb. 21||Damien vs. Kahuku||Kah, 50-49||Stan Sheriff Center|
|15||Feb. 21||Maryknoll vs. Kamehameha||Mryk, 46-33||Stan Sheriff Center|
|* — consolation|