Earlier in the week, I got to see Maryknoll’s evolution from a defensive-oriented team to a defense-first team that loves to run.
‘Iolani has already been there with the quick offensive transition for awhile. They were at it tonight against a dangerous Kailua squad. After sinking four 3-pointers in the opening quarter, ‘Iolani led 20-13 and enjoying the quick pace.
But they went cold for the next two quarters from deep and Kailua found itself. ‘Iolani put Kailua in the bonus early in each half — before the end of the first quarter and before the end of the third quarter. A lot of the fouls were on hacks/reaches, unnecessary in the backcourt. The Raiders did better just setting traps and letting their teammates chase passes for steals. I didn’t stat the game, but my guess is Kailua had at least 25 turnovers.
And still, the Raiders were in a close, close game in the fourth quarter. Only a 14-3 run finally locked up a tougher-than-the-score-indicates 65-49 win. Emily Nomura was especially efficient, running her man off screens to hit two treys, and she had nine of her team-high 18 points in the final quarter.
“Kailua’s a really good team. They battled back,” ‘Iolani coach Dean Young said. “They caught us late in the game and our team and our team didn’t waver, didn’t get shaken. We went on a 10-0 run. I’m glad about how we responded. I was happy with the pressure and (forcing) the turnovers. We were just a little cold today. They were open shots. We’re pretty happy with most of the shot selection. A lot of the threes were caught in rhythm. They just weren’t falling.”
Brooke Maeda was clutch with both of her 3-point bombs in the fourth quarter. Camy Aguinaldo scored all nine of her points on threes. In all, the Raiders made eight treys, but it was telling that when they hit that cold spell from the arc during the second and third quarters, it was very difficult to get easy shots in the paint against Kailua’s Patria Vaimaona and Tau Williams.
That didn’t really faze the Raiders, who were patient and quick with offensive execution. Sierra Buscher worked hard on the boards, matched up against Vaimaona. Buscher finished with 10 hard-earned points.
“(Patria Vaimaona) is incredible, and Sierra did a hell of a job,” Young said. “Even when Sierra was in the right spot, battling, even when we had back-side help, sometimes we still couldn’t stop (Vaimaona). She’s a great player. You can’t foul her. She’s a really good free-throw shooter.”
Young has been in good spirits despite the obvious hassle of getting around on crutches since a recent knee injury. He’s taken a slower approach for his team when it comes to scheduling. Apart from their three games (all wins) at the Ted Fukushima Invitational and Saturday’s Kailua game, there are no other contests on the schedule until the ‘Iolani Classic on Dec. 11.
“For us, it’s a pretty good amount of games. We’re still a young team. When you have a senior-laden team with a lot of experience, you might be able to schedule a bunch of games. This team is young enough that we need more practice time,” Young said.
Practice, of course, makes perfect. At 4-0, that’s just what the Raiders are so far.