With or without their top players, the Mater Dei Monarchs have made summer journeys to Hawaii an annual ritual.
The 2019 trip has been, at times, quite a struggle. Splitting their varsity team in two, the Monarchs were 0-4 in the first two days of competition at the ‘Iolani Summer League and finished the week a combined 3-5. Mater Dei’s Varsity 1 squad lost to Team Shimamoto, a team of seniors and recent graduates, on a buzzer-beater by Cole Arceneaux.
On Thursday, the Monarchs lost to Maryknoll 41-32 in a highly acrimonious battle as Coach Gary McKnight was whistled for two technical fouls and given a boisterous heave-ho from the gym by a referee.
Mater Dei then defeated ‘Iolani and the Hawaii Raiders soundly in the ensuing two days.
The Monarchs Varsity 2 team went 1-3, losing to PROformance, Moanalua and Kamehameha. The V2 defeated Mid-Pacific on Friday.
Junior forward Harrison Hornery stood out through the week with hot shooting from the arc, averaging 15 points per game. For McKnight, however, the rancor of Thursday’s game against Maryknoll was bitter. While the Monarchs were heard on the court uttering cuss words at referees for perceived no-calls or bad calls, they didn’t appreciate the fiery responses from the lead official.
“He looked into the stands and he said, this is how we do it in Hawaii,” McKnight said. “He also said we’re not as good without Bol Bol.”
Bol graduated in 2018 and is an NBA prospect.
“One of our kids countered and got a technical (foul) for it,” McKnight said.
That player was Aidan Prukop.
“He said, you suck and you shouldn’t be on the court,” Prukop said. “And I said, I have seven (college scholarship) offers.”
McKnight didn’t deny that his team went to war with the officiating crew, or the lead official. The foul count was 6-1 in favor of Maryknoll when the grenades started flying. McKnight yelled out the numbers each time his team was called for an ensuing foul.
“We’re no angels. We got upset,” the longtime coach said. “We should’ve backed off and let it go.”
Their last game at ‘Iolani included four technicals, two on the Monarchs and two on Hawaii Raiders. There was, however, no push-back, no hostility between benches and officials, not like Thursday. It was a different crew.
There were no hugs or farewells for the Monarchs when they completed their last game at the summer league. It was their best shooting performance of the week, a team on fire from 3-point range against a talented Hawaii Raiders team. They have games at Kalaheo on Sunday before heading back to California.