PUKALANI — The Maui Interscholastic League dropped to 0-5 in first-round Division I boys basketball state tournament games it has hosted on Monday, but this one felt different.
Kamehameha Schools Maui played defending state champion Maryknoll down to the final minutes before the Spartans pulled away for a 44-34 win.
“They’re a well-coached, very disciplined team, they played a good game,” Kamehameha Maui coach Angus Peters III said.
The Spartans bounded out to leads of 6-0 and 12-2 on the way to a 14-5 advantage at the end of the first quarter.
Kale Spencer scored the first seven points and 13 of the first 15 for Kamehameha Maui. He was locked in a scoring duel with Maryknoll’s Logan Dias, who scored 16 of the Spartans’ first 23 points.
A drive to the hoop by Kamehameha Maui’s Dylan Schnitzer brought the Warriors within 23-17 and prompted a timeout from Maryknoll coach Kelly Grant.
Kamehameha Maui drew within 23-21 on a steal and layup by Po’okela Aiu amid chants of “defense, defense, defense” by the pro-Warrior crowd inside the Kaulaheanuiokamoku Gym late in the first half.
Once down 18-7, the Warriors finished the first half on an 8-0 run and Spencer missed a 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer that would have given them the lead before they went to the locker room down 23-21.
“We’ve been teaching the kids all year not to give up and to keep fighting and they did their best to do that tonight,” Peters said.
The Warriors remained close through the third quarter, getting within 28-25 going to the fourth on a jumper in the lane by Aiu.
A pair of free throws by Dias pushed the lead to 32-25 with 4:56 to play and a 3 by Parker Grant made it 35-25 with 4:06 left, bringing a timeout from Peters.
Spencer made a 3 with 1:18 to play to pull the Warriors within 39-30, but they would get no closer.
Kamehameha Maui (8-4) said goodbye to seniors Spencer, Brevin Carillo and Logan Rickard on Monday.
“We made some good strides, the seniors had a lot to do with it,” Peters said. “I thanked them for being there and I told them I love them. They did a hell of a job and they got the program where it needs to be moving forward, for sure.”
Spencer finished with a game-high 19 points, but no one else had more than seven for the Warriors.
“What can I say, they played a hell of a game, their shots fell and we couldn’t stop their 3 at one point, and we just had to fight,” Spencer said. “They just played a better game than us.”
Spencer agreed with his coach that the program is moving in the right direction.
“I definitely think it is, coming off how many years off for COVID, I think this year was very important for the sophomores and freshmen to get in and play because coming off of COVID we knew it was going to be tough bouncing back up with two years of not doing anything.” Spencer said. “I think it was just a building year and I’m excited to watch them next year.”
Spencer spent a moment after the game talking with Maryknoll’s Zion Bruce, who grew up on Maui and is an Outrigger Volleyball Club teammate of Spencer’s.
Kamehameha Maui volleyball now awaits Spencer and sometime soon a decision looms between football or volleyball to play in college.
“I’m ready, I’m very much excited for volleyball and I just can’t wait to get back out on the court again,” he said.
Kelly Grant was impressed with the Warriors.
“We got a chance to watch film, we got a chance to watch three of their games and I was super impressed with the style they play, how disciplined they are,” Grant said. “So, I was really concerned coming into the game.”
For Maryknoll (11-6), the next step is a Thursday quarterfinal against second-seeded Mililani. Dias led the Spartans with 18 points.
“We keep on telling him that he’s the best shooter, at least on our team,” Grant said. “I’ve seen him run off 78 in a row. When he catches the ball, he tries to go to the basket with the dribble. I told him: ‘Catch the ball, square yourself up and launch it.’ He is finally realizing that’s his game and he can do that — if they start flying at him then he can go by guys.”
* Robert Collias is at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Micah Sakamoto 0, Justin Yap 3, Jaren Kaneshiro 0, Zion Milare 3, Parker Grant 5, Hunter Marumoto 2, Fabian Camacho 5, Ezekiel Rodrigues 0, Logan Dias 18, Zion Bruce 8.
KAMEHAMEHA MAUI (8-4)
Logan Rickard 0, Po’okela Aiu 4, Nahale Dukelow 0, Brevin Carillo 2, Dylan Schnitzer 7, Kale Spencer 19, Richie Davenport 2.
Maryknoll 14 9 5 16–44
Kamehameha Maui 5 16 4 9–34
BOYS BASKETBALL STATE CHAMPIONSHIPS
Monday’s Results • First Round
Maryknoll 44, Kamehameha Maui 34
Kahuku 62, Kamehameha Hawaii 37
Iolani 59, Roosevelt 35
Kailua 53, Kapolei 33
Thursday’s Games • Quarterfinals
No. 4 Baldwin vs. Kailua, 5 p.m.
No. 1 Saint Louis vs. Kahuku, 7 p.m.
No. 3 Hilo vs. Iolani, 5 p.m.
No. 2 Mililani vs. Maryknoll, 7 p.m.