Maryknoll’s youth brigade races to 7-0 start

The Maryknoll Spartans are getting plenty of preseason experience. Paul Honda/Star-Advertiser

Five games in a 40-hour span didn’t faze this team.

By Monday night, the Maryknoll Spartans were still perfect. A 62-36 win over host McKinley at the Matsumoto Law Group Black and Gold Classic closed the book on the tourney for this season.

Maryknoll went deep, as expected, to pick up its seventh win in seven outings. Even with a Sunday break, the toll of multiple games in two concurrent tournaments tested their legs and gave reserves valuable minutes on the court against a scrappy, improving McKinley squad.

It’s a good bet that no team statewide has played as many games. Coach Chico Furtado seemed refreshed on Monday, instructing his younger Spartans to the final buzzer. Or horn. Or whatever that artificial sound is.

“I’m just a little (tired), but we’ve got to keep going. We get Kaimuki at our place Thursday,” Furtado said on Tuesday.

Three Spartans scored in double figures against the Lady Tigers: Jalen Tanuvasa (11 points), Lily Koki (10) and Kyla Neumann (10). Serenity Moaning had eight points and Aloha Akaka added seven as 10 players broke into the scoring column.

Neumann seemed fresh after the game, but then again, she and her teammates mostly played about half of the 32 minutes. They are in mid-season form, at least from a conditioning standpoint.

The constant fullcourt pressure is already a hallmark of this year’s Spartans. Furtado dropped the press in the second half, but even in halfcourt, the traps and physical play are tenacious. Maryknoll was tall, long and quick in the past four seasons, but without a 6-foot-1 center — All-State center Isabella Cravens graduated — using the athleticism on defense is what Furtado wants.

“I like our energy and athleticism,” Furtado said. “Our fullcourt defensive pressure was very active and gave every team we played some problems, although we were a little tired by the McKinley game.”

Historically, his teams have slowed the tempo later in the season as ILH games crawl to a snail’s pace. This time, it might be different thanks to the depth of his roster. There is a good chance the Spartans are averaging at least 10 steals per game and forcing a minimum of 25 turnovers. When games do slow down, their inexperience as a team in varsity will be tested.

“Our youth shows at times with the decision making and unforced turnovers, but we have to accept some of that as long as they’re playing hard. I like the play we got off the bench with our freshmen. They brought energy and played without being overly hesitant,” Furtado said.

Where does this put Maryknoll in the Top 10 rankings? There hasn’t been a poll yet, but the only other unbeaten team in ILH Division I is ‘Iolani. In OIA D-I, there are no unbeaten teams among the top contenders at this point. Mililani, Kahuku and Kalani all lost games at the Black and Gold Classic.

In all, the ILH’s composite record against OIA and MIL (Lahainaluna) teams in the Black and Gold Classic was 13-2.

So Maryknoll, with its no-seniors roster, might be a deserving No. 2 right now. Perhaps, No. 1. For all the concern about so many outstanding seniors graduating from a four-time ILH championship team, the young returnees and the influx of talented players from the JV program are proving that the Maryknoll program will have practically no drop-off in the post-Cravens, post-Rhianne Omori, post-Kodee Viena, post-Chayse Milne, post-Kamalu Kamakawiwo‘ole era.

Kamakawiwo‘ole wasn’t a graduate, though, and she is starting to look more comfortable with the Kalani Falcons. But that’s another story.


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