Maybe in a year, the ‘Iolani Raiders will be celebrating.
Or maybe in a week plus.
After a 51-31 loss at No. 1 Maryknoll on Tuesday night, the Raiders are in good shape. The fourth-ranked team in the state has a state-tourney berth, the result of a 48-44 win over Kamehameha on Monday in the ILH playoff semifinals.
“That was a huge win last night,” Raiders coach Dean Young said on Tuesday.
Twenty-four hours later, the Raiders had their running shoes on, so to speak, and hit a fine 5-for-9 from 3-point range in the second quarter against Maryknoll. That allowed them to cut a 21-2 deficit to 28-21. Maryknoll added a point before the break and led by eight.
From there, it was all Spartans, a senior-heavy squad that has now captured four ILH titles in a row. For ‘Iolani, the state tourney is nearing. The Raiders are ranked No. 4 in the Star-Advertiser Girls Basketball Top 10. The state tourney tips off on Monday.
Beyond the big dance, the Raiders lose some key seniors including Kellie Okamura. But Tori Maeda and Taylor Wu are only juniors, and Lily Lefotu Wahinekapu, who had 18 points against Maryknoll, is just a freshman. Is there a better group of three returning next season?
For now, nobody in the islands has beaten Maryknoll. Nobody has executed the right game plan to upend the dominant Spartans. ‘Iolani tried to slow the tempo, then sped the game up into a medium pace that worked in the second quarter.
But would an all-out stall work against Maryknoll? Young shrugged a bit, but the thought has crossed his mind. Maeda thinks it’s an option.
“We’ve got the ballhandlers to do it,” said Maeda, a heady point guard. “If that’s what our coaches want, it’s a possibility.”
Maryknoll coach Chico Furtado has seen his share of delay tactics.
“I hope we don’t see that,” he said after the Spartans cut down the net to celebrate their ILH title. “That would mean we’re losing.”