Hawaiian Electric Game of the Week
No. 2 Maryknoll to host top-ranked Punahou

The top two teams in the ScoringLive/Hawaiian Electric Boys Basketball Power Rankings will close out a busy week against each other Saturday afternoon.

Top-ranked Punahou is the lone remaining unbeaten in the ultra competitive gauntlet that is the Interscholastic League of Honolulu Division I, while No. 2 Maryknoll is seeking a bounce-back win after falling just short in a one-point loss at seventh-ranked Kamehameha Thursday night.

The winner of Saturday's showdown between the Buffanblu (3-0 league, 18-1 overall) and the Spartans (3-1, 17-2) will be in first place in the seven-team ILH D1 standings about a third of the way through the 12-game regular season.

Punahou, the reigning Division I state champion, boasts a veteran roster that includes five seniors, but also youth in its two sophomores and two freshmen.

"Our senior class, most of those guys have been on our team since they were freshmen, so they've kind of been through all the wars and seen it all and they understand what we do and they understand the course of the season. Also it's different this year because three (ILH teams) get in states and the playoffs mean a lot more," Buffanblu coach Darren Matsuda said.

Punahou's lone blemish on its record this season was a 65-57 preseason loss at Damien back on Nov. 26. It has won its last 16 games since the loss to the D2-Monarchs.

"It's kind of what we expected," Matsuda said of the ILH race. "I think everybody is really good and anybody can beat anybody, so you gotta come focused and prepared because it's kind of scary. Everybody is good and that's kind of what we expected."

The top four scorers for the Buffanblu through three league games have all been seniors in Kaulana Makaula (11.3 ppg), Les Falatea (9.0), Jakob Kimura (8.0) and Duke Clemens (8.0).

Leading the Buffanblu in scoring through three ILH games has been senior wing Kaulana Makaula (11.3 ppg). Fellow seniors Jakob Kimura and Duke Clemens are averaging 8.0 ppg.

"They're a good team," Maryknoll coach Kelly Grant said of the Punahou. "They've got a lot of veteran players and a lot of youth, I mean, there's talent up and down that roster. They've got shooters, they've got speed, they've got height, they've got muscle, so it's gonna be a tough task for us to win that game. We've got to play 32 minutes of sound basketball."

Punahou, which is coming off a 67-57 win at Saint Francis Thursday, is averaging 60.3 points per game in ILH play, while opponents are being held to just 46.3 points.

While it's a short hop across Wilder Avenue between the two campuses, Matsuda knows the Spartans will be enjoying a big-time home-court advantage Saturday.

"I think they're super athletic. They're very long, they're a real good team. I think they're one of the best teams in the state, if not the best team in the state," Matsuda said. "For us, we have a game plan and we gotta be focused and have energy because it's a big game for them, it's their homecoming so I know that gym is gonna be rocking and rolling."

The Spartans are averaging 55.0 points for and 47.3 points against in ILH competition this season. Seniors Marcus Tobin and Makoto Kamata are the team's leading scorers, averaging 16.0 and 11.3 points per game, respectively.

Not only will it serve as their homecoming, it marks the Spartans first home game this season.

"I was hoping to finish 3-1 and then when we were 3-0 I was hoping we would be 4-0, but that didn't work out how we wanted it to," Grant said. "Kamehameha had a really good game plan and we were just flat. We didn't shoot well, we didn't make one 3-pointer, we shot about 20 percent from the field, but as a whole we have a lot of returnees and a lot of experience as far as playing time, so it's kind of what I expected it to be so far."

Maryknoll got off to a slow start against the Warriors Thursday, trailing them at the half, 17-11. Grant is hopefully his team will use it as a learning experience.

"We talked to the team about how it didn't matter that we had beat (Kamehameha) by double digits the first time (because) that's the preseason and they've been working on stuff, we're working on stuff and when the season starts everyone is 0-0, so I'm not saying that we took them lightly, but we just were flat. We had no intensity during the game. We just need to make sure we take every game the same way, prepare the same way no matter if you're playing the best team in the league or the worst team in the league," Grant said.

The Buffanblu are taking much the same type of approach.

"I think the biggest thing is that there are 12 league games this year, not 10, so it's a marathon, not a sprint, but our approach is always the same and we try to prepare as best as we can, try to give as much effort and control what we can control, but it's a very long season to say the least," Matsuda said.

It will be the third game in five days and the fourth in 10 days for both teams.

Tip off between the Buffanblu and Spartans is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Maryknoll's Clarence T.C. Ching Gymnasium. It will follow a Division I girls game between Kamehameha and Maryknoll at Noon.

Reach Kalani Takase at [email protected].



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