Chico Furtado is not quite quite Santa Claus, at least not on the basketball court.
In the moments after No. 1 Maryknoll pulled out a tough 45-36 win over No. 2 Kamehameha — at Kekuhaupio Gymnasium — that elusive perfect performance eluded the Lady Spartans. So what’s new? Even at 21-2 overall, 7-0 in Interscholastic League of Honolulu play, moving one big step closer to an automatic state-tournament berth, Maryknoll didn’t have the consistency its grizzled coach seeks.
The difference, Furtado said, was timing. Maryknoll shot 8-for-20 over Kamehameha’s defense, which went from man-to-man to 2-3 zone after the first quarter. That adjustment by Warriors coach Joseph Cho made sense for a time. Maryknoll shot 3-for-12 from the field in the second quarter, including just 1-for-5 from deep.
Kamehameha was ahead 19-18 at intermission. The plan was in play. Then Maryknoll’s superb ball movement led to 5-for-11 shooting from the field in the third quarter, including 3-pointers from Kamalu Kamakawiwo‘ole and Chayse Milne, both in the left corner, in the final minute of the third period. That turned a tied game into a 32-26 edge for the visitors entering the fourth quarter.
“We hit more shots today,” Furtado said. “Those were two big 3s.”
From there, it was more sustained, tight defense by Maryknoll’s man-to-man defenders. Furtado was stoked with that effort on the defensive end, especially by Kodee Viena, who covered Kamehameha’s dangerous sharpshooter, Kiana Vierra. Viena limited the 5-foot-11 gunner to five points on 2-for-7 shooting. She was 1-for-4 from the 3-point line.
Furtado didn’t get enough low-post scoring for his taste. Senior center Isabella Cravens passed up a handful of potential shots inside 5 feet against Kamehameha’s zone, but she still corralled a game-high 12 rebounds while protecting the rim. Moe Notoa was strong on the low post early and finished with six points and seven boards.
Point guard Rhianne Omori scored 15 points, all after the first quarter, while wings Kamakawiwo‘ole, Milne and Viena combined for 17 points. The Spartans had 12 turnovers and shot only 34 percent from the field (14-for-41), but were stout on defense and owned a 35-23 edge on the boards. Kamehameha didn’t take advantage as Maryknoll switched to a 2-3 zone, hitting just three of 13 attempts from the 3-point arc.
“We come here and we have to play with energy, and as talented as we are, sometimes we lack energy,” Furtado said.
He also didn’t care much for the quick shots the Spartans took after opening the lead to 40-30 after 3-point bombs by freshman Aloha Akaka and Omori.
On the whole, though, the Spartans are still playing the best basketball in the state. Kamehameha is adjusting to life with center Kalina Obrey (hand) back in the lineup. Lahainaluna is scarcely getting a challenge in the Maui Interscholastic League. Konawaena barely got past Waiakea, 38-35, on Thursday night in a home game.
“Our main goal is to get into the state tournament and finish what we didn’t do the past two years,” said Viena, a senior. “We played smarter in the third quarter. We weren’t forcing shots. We were being patient.”
Maryknoll can clinch at least a tie for the ILH regular-season title with a win over Punahou on Saturday. ‘Iolani, which upset Kamehameha on Tuesday at Kekuhaupio Gymnasium, is now in second place, two games behind the Warriors.
Kamehameha, now 5-3 in league play (14-4 overall), was mathematically eliminated from regular-season title contention. The Warriors’ remaining opportunity to capture a state berth will be in the ILH playoffs.