MANOA — Although its perimeter shots were not falling, Maryknoll's size and speed was more than enough to give the Spartans a win Monday night.
Senior post players Bella Cravens and Moe Notoa controlled the paint and combined for 21 points to lead the Spartans in a 68-34 victory over host Mid-Pacific in both teams' Interscholastic League of Honolulu Division I season opener at Mills Gymnasium.
Cravens, a 6-foot-1 center, had 11 points, six rebounds and three blocks in the win while the 5-foot-8 Notoa had a solid all-around game with 10 points, seven rebounds, two assists and two steals to help Maryknoll outscore the Owls in every quarter.
"We got Moe and Bella pretty situated at the 4 and 5," said Maryknoll coach Chico Furtado. "We have to make sure of that since we do have a size advantage. I think we're going to try and continue to play with traditional 4 and 5 bigs."
The duo also helped the Spartans outrebound Mid-Pacific, 37 to 19, which helped alleviate a mediocre shooting performance from behind the arc (4-for-16 on 3-point attempts).
Maryknoll's size advantage was evident early on as it scored its first six points off of putback opportunities. By the time the first quarter was over, the Spartans had accumulated seven offensive rebounds and led 12-4.
"We got to make sure we just stay balanced," said Furtado. "Sometimes the 3-point line is our best friend, sometimes it's not. We took a couple early ones that didn't go down, but we was aggressive on the glass."
Cravens, an All-Hawaii D1 Third Team selection a season ago, said playing next to Notoa gives the Spartans a one-two combo that most teams won't be able to contain.
"It really helps us establish ourselves because we are one of the biggest teams, I want to say on the island right now," said Cravens. "It puts us at an advantage definitely. To have more size helps a lot."
Another key factor in the Spartans' victory was their ability to get down the floor. The same hustle shown going after offensive rebounds was displayed in transition whenever Maryknoll got a stop on defense.
"Credit Maryknoll for being able to push the tempo of the game," said Mid-Pacific coach Sherice Ajifu. "Their ability to pass the ball and get 94 feet down the court so quickly, that's just a credit to their skill set and their personnel."
All 12 Maryknoll players that checked into the game also registered a point in the contest. Dakota Viena had eight points off the bench while Chayse Milne and Kamalu Kamakawiwoole each had seven points to round out the Spartans' leading scorers.
For Mid-Pacific, Monday's contest against the Spartans was an accelerated learning experience. The Owls were playing in their first D1 contest since winning the D2 state title earlier in February, while Maryknoll has won the past three league championships.
"We're obviously disappointed with the outcome of the game, but not our team's effort," said Ajifu. "We knew we were giving up inches on almost every player coming into the game. Their bench is deep, our bench is not. We were just looking for our kids to compete. We thought they came out with good energy and they did their best to battle. Unfortunately we fell short."
With Maryknoll playing an effective trap defense on Brillie Kovaloff, the reigning All-Hawaii D2 Player of the Year, the Owls saw guard Tylee-Kanani Wong lead the team in points with eight, while Payton Antonio was aggressive and took a game-high 12 field goal attempts.
"We made some progress tonight, just not on the scoreboard, but we did made some progress," said Ajifu.
Kovaloff finished with six points, but did not knock down her first shot attempt until the 2:17 mark of the fourth quarter.
The Spartans have a short turnaround as they continue league play at Punahou Tuesday night while Mid-Pacific plays its next game at Sacred Hearts on Saturday.
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