When Maryknoll takes on nationally-ranked Archbishop Mitty (Calif.) tonight at the ‘Iolani Classic, longtime coach Chico Furtado will consider it an optimum moment of clarity.
“We’re going to get baptized by fire,” Furtado said.
The game will tip off at 8 p.m. Spectators are required to show vaccination cards and I.D.
Furtado, the longtime coach is now, technically, “Program Coordinator” for the Lady Spartans.
“I’m still involved. Coach Tony Ho‘olulu is doing most of the on-court adjustments. I might not be as boisterous during games, but my fingerprints are all over this thing,” Furtado said.
In recent years, there was some consideration to stepping away, but in the end, Furtado can’t quite quit basketball.
“My intermediate team just took the (ILH) Division I championship. A nice group of eighth graders that will catapult us the next four years,” he said. “I’m not looking to go nowheres.”
The current varsity squad has quite a legacy to follow. Prior to the pandemic, Maryknoll had a dynasty in ILH girls hoops, qualifying for the D-I state championships for the better part of a decade.
2013-14: ILH runner-up, lost in state quarterfinals.
2014-15: won ILH, finished third at states.
2015-16: won ILH, finished runner-up at states.
2016-17: won ILH, finished runner-up at states.
2017-18: won ILH, finished runner-up at states.
2018-19: did not qualify for states.
2019-20: ILH runner-up, lost in state quarterfinals.
Furtado was always on campus as a counselor, but coached boys and girls at Kalaheo for decades before moving on to Maryknoll. Clarence T.C. Ching Gymnasium was the new home to Spartans basketball. The timing was right.
This year’s team may be young, maybe as youthful as Kamehameha.
“We have two seniors,” Furtado said of the 10-player roster. “Lilly Koki, our mainstay of our team two years ago as the sophomore, was the first one off the bench. She had a great summer.”
Koki signed to play basketball at St. Martin’s.
“She has a scholarship. She’ll be on an official visit during Christmas break,” Furtado said.
Junior Taimane Faleafine-Auwae, a 6-foot-1 center, has tremendous potential.
“Those two have the most experience prior to COVID,” Furtado added. “I like Taimane’s length and size. As a freshman with the team we had, the Akaka twins (Aloha and Mahalo), Serenity (Moananu), we asked Taimane to do only a few things. This year, we’ll ask her to do more, to be an impact player offensively and defensively.”
The challenge, Furtado noted, is that Faleafine-Auwae is still nearing the tipping point as a scorer and playmaker.
“We told her, you cannot have less than eight shot attempts a game. By regular season, 10 or 12 (shots) from post-ups, drop-steps, rebound putbacks, the elbow, short-corner jumpers. I don’t care what it is,” Furtado said.
Point guard Kira Kaopua, the other senior, provides more experience. She was played as a reserve as a sophomore.
Kiani Ho‘olulu, daughter of coach Ho‘ohulu, will start at the 2-guard, Furtado said. Koki will be the 3.
Junior Ciera Tugade-Agasiva is the starting 4, or power forward.
“She’s 5-8ish, a brawny kid. Strong, athletic and physical. She’ll probably do the blue-collar work around the bucket,” Furtado said.
The Spartans will have talent in reserve. Sophomores Isabella Arrisgado and Elisa Holakeituai could be game changers.
“Bella is probably our best 3-point shooter and probably our best perimeter defender,” Furtado said. “Elisa is a 5-10 forward from the North Shore, same as Isabella (Cravens) and Moe (Notoa).”
Cravens was a four-year starter at center who now plays for Nebraska. Notoa was a clutch performer in the paint. Both played on the four-peat ILH championship teams.
“Elisa is a kid that we like. Long arms, lengthy. He athleticism is getting caught up with the body, but we look forward to working with her the next three years.”
Another rising underclassman is Hailey Perez, younger sister of former Maryknoll boys standout Jordan Perez.
“She’s going to split time at point guard. She’s got a lot of promise,” Furtado noted.
The opportunity to travel and play in a Las Vegas tournament was considered, and put on hold.
“We had some thoughts about a Jerry Tarkanian tournament, but our overall thought is because of our lack of experience on this level, we’ll stay home and mature,” Furtado said.
Bonus shots: ‘Iolani Classic girls tournament games will be streamed on www.iolani.org.
Thursday, Dec. 9
3:30 p.m. Lahainaluna vs. Centennial (Nev.)
5 p.m. Kamehameha vs. Salesian College Prep (Calif.)
6:30 p.m. ‘Iolani vs. Hawaii Baptist
8 p.m. Maryknoll vs. Archbishop Mitty (Calif.)