After the Maryknoll Spartans' 68-34 win over Mid-Pacific Monday night at Mills Gymnasium, there's no denying who's the odds-on-favorite to win the Division I state title this season.
Maryknoll, winners of the past three Interscholastic League of Honolulu D1 titles, pushed the tempo on both ends of the court to dominate the Owls in both team's first league game of the year.
With a deep bench and a veteran group that has 11 seniors, which includes seven four-year varsity players, Maryknoll coach Chico Furtado has no problem with letting his players go full-speed for an entire game.
"I think sometimes they get a little over excited and try to make plays, but you cannot help but enjoy the passion and the way they want to get up and down," said Furtado. "I think in the long run, when you got horses, you cannot corral them. You have to let them go at some point."
The Spartans' outlet for their energy can be found in a effective trap defense that recorded 10 steals and forced 17 Mid-Pacific turnovers. This helped Maryknoll outscore the Owls in every quarter as it scored a number of buckets on fast break opportunities in its Monday win.
"I really like our transition (offense)," said Furtado. "If we can get a bunch of our points in transition, we don't have to settle much for half court offense."
Still, the Spartans were effective in the half court with senior center Bella Cravens pouring in 11 points with three blocks. Even though she spends most of her time protecting the paint on defense, Cravens enjoys playing on a team that likes to trap opposing guards.
"We want to pressure everyone to see how they work under pressure, and I think that too helps us because we have all this energy and all this talent and all these players," said Cravens. "I think when we trap and we push the ball, it helps us get all of it out and we really work well at a fast pace."
Speaking of talent and players, all 12 of the Maryknoll players that checked into the game got into the scoring column. Moe Notoa joined Cravens in double figures with 10 points and Dakota Viena had eight more to lead all bench scorers.
Junior Kamalu Kamakawiwoole is generally a mainstay in the Spartans' starting lineup, but she came off the bench after dealing with a cold and scored all of her seven points in the fourth quarter. Chayse Milne, who started in place of Kamakawiwoole, also added seven points.
Rhianne Omori, Kehau Gilliland and Ysabelle Halemano each chipped in six points to round out the key contributors for Maryknoll.
Cravens added that having such a talented and experienced group is beneficial for the group's cohesiveness.
"It really helps us play as a team because everybody will play, maybe not every game, but even if we don't play or if somebody is down, it helps us hold each other accountable and better ourselves."
Maryknoll will hope to continue its winning ways when it travels to Punahou Tuesday night in a 6:30 p.m. contest.
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