HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL
Spartans ride Tsukazaki’s 31 to victory in Black and Gold Invitational
The early-season rankings aren't out yet, but Blaine Gier would be more than happy if the general public forgets about his Maryknoll Spartans.
At least until a little later. That might be tough to do, though, now that the Spartans are 8-1 in nonconference play.
Maryknoll capped a nice run in the Black and Gold Invitational yesterday, overwhelming Kapolei 50-31 in the final at McKinley Student Council Gym. Tyler Tsukazaki poured in 31 points, including 6-for-7 shooting from 3-point range, for the Spartans.
Zachary Misajon added six points and eight rebounds, and Richard Herring grabbed a team-high nine boards.
"We've got a couple of new guys who are playing a lot. I don't want to think about rankings. That's bad luck for us," he said, referring to Maryknoll's presence in the Star-Bulletin Top 10 in the early part of last season.
Tsukazaki, a 5-foot-9 senior guard, has more help this season, thanks to an influx of young post players. Still, Tsukazaki is the mainstay of Maryknoll's attack. With him on the court, Maryknoll outscored Kapolei 43-24.
With Tsukazaki on the bench, Kapolei outscored the Spartans 11-7.
"We got a lot of experience this week," Gier said. "We played some good teams. We had a good mix of tempo. Waipahu was scrappy, Kaimuki had big boys and there's the athleticism of Kapolei."
Cameron Moody led the Hurricanes with nine points. The 6-3 senior grabbed four rebounds. Kapolei shot 31 percent from the field (11-for-35), including 1-for-8 from the 3-point line.
Maryknoll shot 39 percent from the floor (18-for-46), including 8-for-15 from the 3-point line.
Maryknoll outrebounded Kapolei 25-20 and had nine assists on its 18 field goals. Kapolei had only three assists on its 11 baskets.
The Spartans rolled to a 13-0 lead, thanks to a pair of treys by Tsukazaki and another by junior Travis Liu. After a timeout by the Hurricanes, Maryknoll unveiled a fullcourt press with dire results.
Kapolei went on a 9-0 run against the press to pull within four. Tsukazaki hit another trey, and turned a steal into an easy layup to close the opening quarter. He had 15 points going into the second quarter.
Tsukazaki sat the final 6:01 of the first half, and both offenses went into lulls. Maryknoll dropped its fullcourt press and relied on straight halfcourt man defense, limiting Kapolei to four second-quarter points. The Hurricanes shot just 17 percent in the first half (3-for-18) and trailed 23-13.
The scrappy 'Canes pulled within 28-23 thanks to hustling Darcus Coleman, who scored six points in a row. However, Tsukazaki hit a 3-pointer before the end of the third quarter.
Kapolei's defense began to double-team in the corners and low posts in the fourth quarter. Maryknoll made the 'Canes pay as Herring found Tsukazaki wide open twice for easy 3-pointers. That gave the Spartans a 37-23 lead and they never looked back.
Kaimuki defeated Kamehameha-Maui 61-39 in the third-place game. Roosevelt topped Waipahu 54-40 for fifth place, and host McKinley defeated Kainai (Canada) 60-44 for seventh place.