This is precisely why the Maryknoll Spartans are in no rush.
Three games in a five-day span, all against Top 10 competition. A relatively young and thin bench. A sophomore center/forward/shooting guard. Coach Kelly Grant’s Spartans are content to walk the ball up the court, execute their offensive sets and, most importantly, get high-percentage shots in crunch time.
That was the case on Saturday night in a key 44-32 win over No. 5 Punahou. The Buffanblu had cut a 14-point deficit to 34-30 early in the fourth quarter, but Maryknoll’s ability to handle Punahou’s fullcourt pressure was elite.
Reserve guard Noah Furtado sliced and diced his way to the paint, feeding Liko Soares for a layup. Then it was reserve guard/forward Logan Dias doing the same with Soares finishing strong again. Then it was senior Niko Robben exploding to the key, dishing to Soares, and suddenly, Maryknoll was in command again with a 40-30 lead and just 2:31 to play.
Keeping the game in low-possession mode is a huge edge for Maryknoll, which can go to Soares or 7-foot Sage Tolentino for isos on the block. The Spartans haven’t eschewed their long-range opportunities, either. Parker Grant splashed two early treys to set the tone and the Spartans were a respectable 4-for-13 from the arc.
Their man-to-man defense challenged Punahou in certain spots with certain shooters. The Buffanblu finished 3-for-20 from long range, and none scored in double figures. Maryknoll was also disciplined defensively; Punahou shot just four free throws all night.
Soares finished with 16 points on 7-for-12 shooting, and he was also 2-for-2 at the free-throw line. Robben, the 6-4 guard, was the glue with eight points, six boards, four assists and a steal. His evolution from game-managing point guard to strong, relentless finisher is a major factor for Maryknoll. All those hours on the practice court and in the weight room are making all the difference.
“It’s just having a good school and foundation, your teammates. All of that together helps everybody in the gym, everybody in the workout room,” he said.
The patient approach is also keeping the trio of Robben, Soares and Tolentino out of foul trouble for the most part. Maryknoll (20-2 overall) is now 4-1 after a slew of early-season games in ILH play.
Maryknoll is on the road Thursday with a battle at Damien. Punahou, which lost its first ILH game, plays at first-place Kamehameha on Tuesday.
At Hemmeter Fieldhouse
Maryknoll (20-2, 4-1) 15 13 6 10 — 44
Punahou (12-7, 2-1) 8 9 11 4 — 32
MS: Micah Sakamoto 0, Reginald Eiland 0, Noah Furtado 1, Parker Grant 7, Kelii Sweeney 0, Niko Robben 8, Irvin Lin 5, Logan Dias 4, Liko Soares 16, Sage Tolentino 3, Linkin Tam Ho 0.
PUN: Yoshi Kobayashi 8, Peyton Macapulay 1, Kanoa Kalahiki 8, Noah Kameehonua 2, Micah Masamitsu 0, Justice Wu 0, Grant Nakanishi 0, Kilinahe Mediola-Jensen 0, Ryder Hsiung 3, Alexandru Iosivas 2, Jordan Deshawn Hepting 8, Zachary Shapira 0, Ioasa Tua 0.
3-point goals—MS 4 (Grant 2, Robben, Lin), PUN 3 (Kalahiki 2, Hsiung).