MANOA — Despite a slow and stagnant game, Punahou defeated their Wilder Ave. neighbor Maryknoll 60-50 in an Interscholastic League of Honolulu Division I game at Hemmeter Fieldhouse on Wednesday night.
"There wasn't a lot of rhythm of the game on both sides. We played in those grind it out games. We have similar teams—we have a young team and they do too. They're an unselfish team and move the ball well so it was a good matchup," said Punahou coach Darren Matsuda.
The third-ranked Buffanblu (2-1) hand the fifth-ranked Spartans (2-1) their first loss in league play. Iolani is the lone unbeaten team in the ILH at 3-0.
Chris Kobayashi scored 17 points and Kaulana Maukaula added 10 points for Punahou. Zayne Chong came off the bench to finish with 14 points.
"Zayne is better when he sees the game and gets into a rhythm. Because of all the injuries we had, he had to play some point guard. He's more comfortable coming off the bench. For us, it's not about who starts, but who finishes. Zayne is unselfish, it doesn't matter if he starts or not," said Matsuda.
Isiah Gelacio, Makoto Kamata and Jaylen Cain each scored 12 points.
The Spartans shot better from the foul line going 14-for-16 (87.5 percent) compared to the Buffanblu, who shot 15-for-23 (65.2 percent).
"They were a poor free throw shooting team last year. Hat's off to Kelly and his staff and they really worked on that part of the game and they capitalized," said Matsuda.
Jordyn Perez tied the game up at 7 with a coast-to-coast layup, however, Chong's points off the bench helped invigorate a 10-1 spurt for the Buffanblu before leading 19 to 10 after the first quarter.
"We wanted to try and break the press and if a layup presented itself, we were going to take it to the basket. If there was no layup, we wanted to get in our sets. We did a pretty good job at one point and we got tired and they (Punahou) wanted us to do," said Maryknoll coach Kelly Grant.
The Buffanblu extended their lead to double digits as Kobayashi heated up to score 5 of his 10 first half points. Kamata scored all 12 of his points in the first half and shot 7-for-7 from the free throw line. The Spartans chipped away with an 11-3 run after Kaulana Schmidt found a cutting Gelacio and Gelacio later hit a 3-pointer to bring Maryknoll within two, 29-27.
"They did a good job of handling our pressure and we got them a bit, but they exploited some stuff in the second quarter and played well. They moved the ball well and shot the ball," said Matsuda.
Even though Maryknoll outscored the home team 17 to 12, it still trailed, 31-27 at the half.
Perez and Gelacio would bring the Spartans within striking distance to start the third. Chong extended the lead to six with a free throw after being intentionally fouled in transition by Cain. Cain grabbed Chong's jersey to prevent him from breaking away with an easy layup. Schmidt hit a jumper and Perez nailed a floater as Maryknoll trailed, 40-38, but Chong hit his third 3-pointer to give Punahou a 43-38 lead.
"Even though we kept it close, it wasn't the style of basketball I wanted to run," said Grant.
Cain made a pair of free throws to bring the score within three, 46-43, but Maryknoll's offense went cold for over 2-minutes. Punahou started pulling away from the free throw line and Kobayashi popped a 3-pointer to give the Buffanblu a 54-43 lead with 2:12 left. Kobayashi and Cole Mausolf combined for 9 of Punahou's 10 made free throws in the final 3-minute stretch of the quarter.
"There was a stretch where we caught the ball and everyone was standing around and going one-on-one. Punahou did a good job moving without the ball, setting screens, getting the ball in the post. They did a good job with a complete game tonight," said Grant.
Punahou goes to Mid-Pacific (1-2) on Saturday, Jan. 14, who edged out Kamehameha (1-2) tonight, 47-45. Maryknoll hosts Saint Louis (0-3) on Friday, Jan. 13.
The Monarchs will play unseeded Hawaii Prep in the semifinals Friday 1 p.m. at Les Murakami Stadium.
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