Strange as it may sound, Maryknoll gave up 14 3-pointers by ‘Iolani and still played well enough defensively to pull out a 62-54 road win on Saturday at the Raiders’ gym.
Frank Felix scored 23 points and poured in seven treys, including four in the first quarter and two in the second, but it wasn’t enough for No. 2 ‘Iolani. The Raiders are now 0-1 in ILH play (9-6 overall) despite making all those treys, largely because the visiting Spartans were bull’s-eye precise at the free-throw line.
Maryknoll shot an incredible 31-for-34 at the charity stripe.
“It’s not just the percentage. It’s the amount of free throws they shot,” ‘Iolani coach Dean Shimamoto said. “We’re not totally disappointed by how we played, but we’re disappointed with the loss. We just have to make better adjustments.”
The Spartans benefited greatly from intensive work at the charity stripe during this holiday break. In fact, their two main perimeter defenders, Makoto Kamata and Payton Grant, were also the Spartans who paid the price as recently as Wednesday.
“The bottom five shooters at practice have to run (from campus) to Ala Wai Field and back,” Maryknoll coach Kelly Grant said. “We didn’t practice any free throws for the first six weeks. We had to put so much stuff in. Now, the first hour-and-a-half, we do our stuff and it gives them 30 minutes to shoot free throws. It makes a big difference. Also, I put a lot of pressure on the kids. The last five guys have to run through McCully after they do their 200 jump ropes.”
Kamata and Grant don’t plan on doing any more extra running.
“We ran down McCully Street,” Payton Grant said. “Coach Mack (Loa) just strolls behind us in his car. We practiced 10 to 12 (noon) during the break.”
“That Damien game, I think we were 20-something percent,” Komata said, recalling a loss to the Monarchs recently. “The extra free throws really helped a lot.”
Kamata finished with 18 points, including 9-for-11 at the foul line. Grant was a modest 2-for-3. The rest of the boxscore read like this:
> Kalai Akaka: 6-6 on FTs, eight points
> Marcus Tobin: 6-6, 12 points
> Niko Robben: 4-4, seven points
> Liko Soares: 4-4, six points
Impressive by any standard, but especially amazing for a team that shot 54 percent at the foul line during preseason.
For ‘Iolani, the rigors of travel to California, returning home, none of it was a major factor in Shimamoto’s mind. But the contact that was normal during the ‘Iolani Classic and the tourney — The Classic at Damien (Calif.) — wasn’t permitted on Saturday. Shimamoto doesn’t blame officiating.
“These were the same officials (who officiated in the ‘Iolani Classic). We definitely have to do a better job of adjusting. We fouled too much,” he said. “I understand that.”
The Raiders took 19 free throws and made 10.
Late in the first quarter, Spartans went to a 2-3 matchup zone, one they’ve used often enough at practice to sharpen their zone offense for ILH play. Sophomore Sage Tolentino, a 6-foot-8 center, blocked a reverse layup try by Felix at the buzzer, and the visitors led 19-14 after one. period.
Felix splashed four treys in the first quarter and two more in the second as the Raiders rallied to take a 34-29 lead with 1:42 left before intermission.
‘Iolani was within 53-48, but missed an open 3, a layup and the front side of a one-and-one — twice — with less than 4 minutes to play. Meanwhile, Maryknoll did enough, including two foul shots by Niko Robben, for a 56-48 lead with 1:25 to go.
The Raiders chipped away and cut the margin to 56-53 on a drive to the bucket by Noah Bumanglag, but he, too, missed the ensuing free throw. ‘Iolani got no closer. Kamata’s free throws with 42.5 seconds left increased Maryknoll’s lead to 58-53.
Maryknoll’s four-game stretch of road games to begin ILH play has been altered. The Spartans will still play at Saint Louis on Wednesday, but Friday’s game with Kamehameha has been moved to Maryknoll.