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Maryknoll boys win Kalaheo Mustangs Classic title

By Wes Nakama

KAILUA — It can be a good problem to have, especially after blowing past the host team, 55-30, Wednesday night to win the Kalaheo Mustangs Classic boys basketball tournament. 

But despite Maryknoll (10-2) being in control basically from start to finish in the title game, head coach Kelly Grant said he is still trying to find exactly the right lineup and rotation for the upcoming ILH season.

“We have like nine or 10 guys who can break (into) the starting lineup, so I’m (still) thinking about it,” said Grant, who guided the Spartans to the state semifinals last season. “Sometimes it’s easier when you have five or six guys that you can rotate, but when you have nine or 10 guys, you have to really think about how you’re going to use them.”

Indeed, 10 different players got into the scoring column Wednesday for Maryknoll, which jumped out to a 14-3 lead after one period and was ahead 34-9 at halftime and 44-15 entering the fourth. Hunter Marumoto led the way with 11 points, including three 3-pointers in the first half. 

After Keenan Kahoekapu’s free throw cut the lead to 14-4 one minute into the second period, Zion Millare drained a 3-pointer from beyond the top of the key to ignite a 14-0 run capped by Marumoto’s 3 from the right wing to make it 28-4 four minutes later. Jaron Gilmore sank two free throws to finally break the run, but the Mustangs (5-7) could not get closer than 22 points the rest of the way.

“We got our butts kicked tonight, so it’ll be interesting, we play them again next week,” said Kalaheo coach Rob Pardini. “We’ll see how our mentality is, how we match up with them one week from (Thursday).” 

The Mustangs are blending a mix of returnees with newcomers from the Mainland, Big Island and Kalani. Point guard Taishawn Jeffery, a transfer from Mississippi, led Kalaheo with nine points and Josh Schutter, a transfer from Kalani, added seven points on Wednesday.

“The kids are great, they’re a resilient bunch,” said Pardini, who added there was a benefit in facing a state contender like Maryknoll. “That’s what we want in preseason, is trying to get exposed to the best (teams). They (the Spartans) definitely did a good job tonight, and we didn’t do such a good job. We’ll be back to work tomorrow.”

Photos: Jordan Tsugawa

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