One change in any lineup can be have an impact.
Irvin Lin made sure he was simply ready. The reserve forward got the start with senior Liko Soares ailing with a partially torn meniscus and simply did the job. Lin scored seven points and grabbed three rebounds — nothing spectacular — but set the tone with a game-opening 3-point bomb.
With Soares guiding Lin, the Spartans didn’t miss a beat en route to a 61-32 win over Kamehameha-Hawaii on Wednesday in quarterfinal round play at the Snapple/HHSAA Boys Basketball State Championships at Moanalua gym.
“Irvin is a good jumper. He put on a lot of muscle since last year,” Maryknoll coach Kelly Grant said.
The Spartans have been defensively oriented all season, preferring a deliberate pace, keeping defensive stoppers like Niko Robben (16 points) and Sage Tolentino (10 points, five boards, five blocks) out of foul trouble. Replacing a key scorer like Soares could’ve been daunting. The Spartans got quality minutes from freshman Justin Yap, who had 10 points in the first half and finished with 14, and reserves like LIn.
“Irvin did an excellent job. He played with a lot of confidence,” Soares said.
“I learned from the best,” said Lin, who was prepared to come off the bench. “I didn’t really find out until I saw my name on the (score) board during warmups.”
Conversely, the loss of one player cost KS-Hawaii the chance to be at their best. Leading scorer Izayah Chartrand-Penera did not play. Coach Mea Wong did not elaborate, but noted that it was a non-basketball issue. The 6-foot senior averaged 20 points per game in BIIF play.
“All we wanted to do was fight. I’m proud of my guys,” said Wong, a former KS-Hawaii standout. “I love ’em.”
Maryknoll will meet Damien in a rematch of ILH rivals during the semifinal round at Stan Sheriff Center on Thursday night. Maryknoll has won all three matchups so far, each by four-point margins.