Kamehameha, Maryknoll advance to I Mua semifinals

Over the weekend, family took the court when Kamehameha visited Maryknoll.

Kamehameha coach Pua Straight led her Warriors to a hard-earned 44-33 win over Maryknoll coach Chico Furtado and his Spartans. Niece versus uncle. It was a way of life in the brutally competitive ILH Division I girls basketball universe — until this season. Maryknoll’s decision to move down to Division II meant D-I Kamehameha would possibly never play the Spartans.

So the nonconference game was set up for last Saturday. As of Thursday night, the two teams have advanced to the semifinals of the I Mua Invitational. They one step away from meeting for the tourney title, but that will not be so easy.

Hamilton, the No. 7 team in Arizona’s highest classification, overcame the typical slow start by mainland teams this season. The Huskies trailed a hot-shooting Waiakea squad, 19-5, before unleashing a torrent of points off post offense and a suffocating three-quarter press for a 60-50 win.

Hamilton’s 6-foot-6 center, Callie Hinder, gets the attention and earns her keep with dominating defensive rebounding. Savanna Creal, a 6-foot senior, sets the tone. She scored 19 point and Hinder had 10 in the comeback win over a much smaller Waiakea team that refused to give in.

The Huskies caught the Warriors and went into the half tied at 33, but still didn’t shake them until late in the third quarter. It was 43-all when Hamilton pulled away from a tiring Warrior squad.

Pua Herrington had 20 points and Jolie Mantz tallied 19, providing hope and some spectacular highlight skills along the way.

“I think we could’ve won,” Mantz said.

“It was good competition. Nobody’s 6-6 in Hawaii,” said Herrington, a 5-10 junior guard. “We’re proud to represent Waiakea.”

Maryknoll’s mighty speed and relentless defense are key factors to a 5-1 start in nonconference play. Paul Honda/Star-Advertiser (Nov. 30, 2023)

Following that opening game, fifth-ranked Maryknoll came through with a 9-3 run in the final 4 minutes to edge No 8 Lahainaluna, 46-40. The Lady Lunas showed drastic improvement since their 0-3 week at the Konawaena Invitational two weeks ago. They scored four times on backdoor cuts and perfect passes.

By the second half, however, it was Maryknoll getting clean looks while Lahainaluna settled for contested shots. The Spartans have the advantage of a seasoned group with years of chemistry. Hailey Perez scored six points as Maryknoll broke a 37-all tie, slicing past bigger defenders for layups.

“Our team can run a lot. That’s our advantage,” said Janelle Yap, who added 12 points, hitting three treys.

“Our size helps us push more because they don’t expect it from us,” Perez said, referring to the Spartans’ constant uptempo transition game.

The sight of Perez consistently getting around 6-foot defenders on crossovers brought joy to Spartan fans at Kekuhaupio Gym.

It was heartbreak for fatigued Luna players.

“I know that if I turn the corner well I can get into the lane, and I can dish or I can attack,” Perez said.

The methodical grind of Maryknoll’s offense is long gone. This season, it’s about beating defenses downcourt, launching open 3-pointers and having a short memory. All predicated on disciplined passing and motion. Even when the Spartans aren’t hitting 3-pointers at a high percentage, they’re inducing opponents to get up and down the court at a faster pace than they’re used to.

The Kamehameha Warriors are still unbeaten at 7-0 following a 58-35 win over Kahuku in the opening round of the I Mua Invitational. Paul Honda/Star-Advertiser (Nov. 30, 2023)

In the third game, host Kamehameha, ranked No. 2 in the state, dismantled a much improved Kahuku squad, 58-35. Constant, physical fullcourt pressure took the Lady Raiders out of any consistent flow. The same Kahuku team nearly beat Waiakea and Konawaena two weeks ago on the Big Island.

This time, Coach Pua Straight continued to deploy her deep supply of tough defenders, using that depth to wear out the visitors.

In the finale, Miami (Ariz.) played with perhaps the highest level of chemistry of any team Thursday night, pulling away from Kamehameha-Hawaii for a 57-46 win. Tamia Pietila had 16 points to lead a balanced, poised Vandals’ attack. KS-Hawaii never quite solved Miami’s zone, and Maela Honma (23 points) was the only Warrior crashing the offensive glass regularly.

It was the cap to a long day for KS-Hawaii. The team flew to Oahu from Hilo after school, but only after their flight was delayed. By the time, they landed, picked up their rental van and arrived at Kekuhaupio Gym, they had just 45 minutes to prepare for the game.

The Warriors were uncharacteristically lethargic in the second half. The effort was there, but there was scarcely any energy to make a comeback. Senior Keanu Huihui, who signed with UH-Hilo recently, finished with 15 points. She had a tough night shooting from the perimeter with a defender glued to her on most possessions.

Thursday’s scores
Hamilton (Ariz.) 60, No. 4 Waiakea 50
>> Ham: Savanna Creal 19, Callie Hinder 10. Wai: Pua Herrington 20, Jolie Mantz 19.
No. 5 Maryknoll 46, No. 8 Lahainaluna 40
>> MS: Hailey Perez 15, Janelle Yap 12 (3 treys). Lah: Juseana Delatori 21 (6 treys), Lola Donez 15.
No. 2 Kamehameha 58, No. 6 Kahuku 35
>> KS: Nihoa Dunn 15. Kah: Tu. Wily-Ava 12
Miami (Ariz.) 57, Kamehameha-Hawaii 46
>> Mia: Tamia Pietila 16 (3 treys), Demetria Dosela 14, Leeyah Goss 10. KSH: Maela Honma 23, Keanu Huihui 15.

Friday’s games
Hamilton (Ariz.) vs. Maryknoll, 6:30 p.m.
Kamehameha vs. Miami (Ariz.), 8 p.m.
Waiakea vs. Lahainaluna, 3:30 p.m.
Kahuku vs. Kamehameha-Hawaii, 5 p.m.

Saturday’s games
Championship, 5:30 p.m.
Third place, 4 p.m.
Fifth place, 2:30 p.m.
Seventh place, 1 p.m.


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