Answering the Bella: Spartans outlast Lunas

The Maryknoll Spartans are off to a 3-0 start after a 52-36 win over MIL champion Lahainaluna at the McKinley Black and Gold Classic. Paul Honda/Star-Advertiser (Nov. 10, 2017)

They are fast enough to run with anyone.

They’re good enough to shoot with anyone, too.

What coach Chico Furtado wants from his Maryknoll Spartans, however, is complete awareness. The Spartans pulled away in the second half with an 9-0 run en route to a 52-36 victory over Lahainaluna on Friday afternoon at McKinley Student Council Gymnasium.

Rhianne Omori finished with 17 points, Kamalu Kamakawiwo‘ole scored 10 points with four rebounds, and Chayse Milne tallied eight points. The key, however, was Maryknoll’s willingness to feed the ball to post Isabella Cravens. The 6-foot-1 senior had six rebounds, four assists and a block to go with her modest two points. By going to Cravens on the high post, the Spartans got open looks under the basket and in the corners. She also drew double teams on the high post, which led to easy passes to cutters like Kamakawiwo‘ole for layups.

“At halftime, we talked and we were trying to match (Lahainaluna’s) 3s,” Furtado said. “Bella wasn’t a factor in the first half because she hardly had any touches, and we have to be careful about becoming one-dimensional. It’s a matter of our kids understanding that collectively as a team, we’re pretty good. We had five consecutive possessions where she didn’t get a touch. She’s developed from a lanky, skinny, uncoordinated freshman to a senior who is a force.”

The Lunas were coming off a 49-45 loss to ‘Iolani on Thursday night. They seemed to have more pep in their step this time, but the third quarter was once again a bugaboo. The Lunas suited up just eight players. Two starters are sidelined with injuries.

Braeanna Estabillo led Lahainaluna, the Maui Interscholastic League champion, with 14 points. Ma‘alaea Kaneaiakala added seven points and Keiko Aotaki chipped in six. Rachael Balagso was effective at slashing to the rim against Maryknoll’s man defense in the second half, but shot 1-for-7 at the charity stripe. She finished with three points.

Maryknoll (3-0) had a busy day. There was a mid-morning game against Kaiser at the Moanalua Peek Tournament featuring seven of Maryknoll’s JV players. On Thursday, the Spartans overpowered Kalani 73-31.

A lot of our kids go off and play in club in the offseason. When they come back, they have to re-coordinate. What they did for their club team as a strength might not be what we need,” Furtado said. “If we get steals and run out, that’s fine. But once we’re in 5-on-5 and it’s one shot, shoot a 3, that’s fool’s gold. We have a size advantage today, I know Lahainaluna is missing one of their posts (Susie Notoa), so take advantage of it. Sometimes we get confused about that and it’s my job to unconfused them.”

On Saturday, Maryknoll has a 1 p.m. showdown with Konawaena. The teams have played in the state final in each of the past two seasons.

“It gives us a chance to see each other, not that I haven’t seen enough of Kona. They’re very disciplined and a very good team,” Furtado said. “It’s only been three games for us.”

Maryknoll will travel to the Jerry Tarkanian Classic in Las Vegas in mid-December. That’s just about as close as Furtado will come to high risk.

“We’ve been fundraising for three years. We had our summer league (fundraiser),” Furtado said. “Going to Las Vegas, it ain’t cheap.”


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