For decades, both as a player and a coach, Kelly Grant valued the perimeter shot. Whether it was emphasized by his high school and college coach, Tony Sellitto, or by himself later as a coach, Grant’s teams at Kaimuki, then at Maryknoll, have often been very good from the 3-point arc.
On Saturday, the Spartans pounded the ball into the post, looking very little like last year’s perimeter-oriented team. Then came backup guard Makoto Kamata, who sank two treys during a run that turned a 12-10 game into a 20-12 lead. The Spartans kept rolling behind 3-pointers from Kamata and fellow junior Tyler Brook in the third quarter en route to a 66-36 victory over Mililani at the Hawaii Self Storage McKinley Black and Gold Classic.
Kamata led the Spartans with 15 points and Cody Weaver scored 11, also off the bench. Ethan Rudometkin tallied 10 points, Nikko Robben had eight and Jaylen Cain chipped in seven.
Isaac Chang led the Trojans with 14 points and Cameron Henry added 11.
“We made adjustments. We’ve played in this tournament for four, five years now, and we know the referees will call it tighter. We had only guy in foul trouble,” Grant said. “We played pretty good defense with man and zone concepts. For the most part, we moved the ball well.”
The 6-foot-2 Kamata provided valuable minutes in a different position.
“We always get 3-point shots off, but if we have a size advantage, we always try to take advantage and get the ball inside. We have six or seven guys who can make the 3. We’re trying to look at different combinations. Makoto is our first guy off the bench. We have two of our points (Isiah Gelacio and Jordyn Perez) graduating this year, so I want to get Makoto experience at the point,” Grant said.
Maryknoll will take on host McKinley on Saturday, 5:30 p.m. On Monday, the Spartans will battle OIA title contender Kapolei in a 6:45 p.m. tip-off.