The defending Oregon 6A state champions are picking up where they left off.
The Southridge Skyhawks were 27-2 last year, beating Oregon City in the state final for the crown. They hadn’t played a game since until this week. So far, so good. Southridge is 2-0 after a 63-39 runaway win over Hawaii’s No. 1 team, Maryknoll, in the semifinals of the ‘Iolani Classic on Friday night.
For Maryknoll, a team that is long and tall by Hawaii standards, it was a unique experience. Without enough perimeter zone-busting, the Spartans struggled often to get open looks against Southridge’s sticky 2-3 zone.
“It’s a lesson learned. It’s nice for our senior group to see what it’s like to go up against a taller, longer team,” coach Chico Furtado said. “We told our kids we’ve got to do two things, limit their second chances and we’ve got to take care of the ball, and we didn’t do either.”
Of course, it’s easy to point right at Southridge’s 6-foot-4 center, Cameron Brink, as the sole reason for the lopsided score. The sophomore had 14 points, 13 rebounds, four steals, two blocks and an assist, completely controlling the paint. Even her presence was enough to keep a few of Maryknoll’s players from even trying to drive into the paint.
Kamalu Kamakawiwo‘ole wasn’t afraid. She kept attacking, getting to the rim, and getting to the line in the first half. She finished the game with 10 points to lead the Spartans.
“Our kids didn’t always play well, but the kids played hard,” Furtado said. “Brink, she’s just long. At the next level, she’ll put some strength on her body. She as a nice touch.”
The Spartans were, as Furtado noted, “shell-shocked” in the opening quarter. Their reserves were often more aggressive and fearless than some of their starters. Once they settled down as a team, they made a minor run, cutting the score to 33-24 after a driving layup by Kamakawiwo‘ole.
Then came a couple of foul shots by Mckelle Meek, and then she stole an inbounds pass for a layup, and just like that, the lead was back to 13. The Spartans never recovered.
The semifinal loss ends their title hopes, but the Spartans will meet Oregon City in the third-place game on Saturday. Next week, they will depart for Las Vegas to play four games in the Tarkanian Invitational.