St. Joseph plays team ball


POSTED: Monday, December 28, 2009

FIFTH IN A SERIES » Methodical. Systematic. Efficient.

The St. Joseph Cardinals aren't interested in outjumping or outrunning you for 32 minutes. All they want is to execute their brand of basketball.

So far, so good. The Cardinals are ranked No. 6 in the Star-Bulletin Boys Basketball Preseason Top 10.

Not bad for a tiny school in Division II.

On paper: The Cardinals are 10-1 in nonconference play following a win over McKinley on Saturday in the Na Menehune Classic.

Veteran coach Harry Scanlan-Leite has seen all forms and variations of winning basketball in Hilo. With this program, which is low in numbers and high in quality players, the coach has the mechanism of a team that runs contrary to the history of successful teams from Hilo.

St. Joe can pump the ball inside to 6-foot-5 sophomore Thomas Fairman, who scored 17 points in a recent win over Honokaa. Fairman, though, is not usually a big scorer.

Balanced scoring is their forte. Sophomore Sebastian O'Hara-Fast (6-1), Jacob Andrade (5-9) and Devyn Monberg are among St. Joe's capable scorers, and point guard Will Scanlan-Leite—the coach's son—is the glue.

“;We like to say our whole is better than a part,”; the coach said. “;The kids like to make the extra pass and they know their teammates will do that, too. We're not a one-on-one kind of team.”;

The skinny: St. Joe, a Division II squad, will benefit from the BIIF's scheduling switch back to the old district rivalries. Instead of playing Division II teams, the Cards will face most of the BIIF's elite D-I teams twice each before the playoffs.

Facing a deep run-and-gun team like Hilo also gives St. Joe excellent preparation for the postseason.

“;It's totally different styles of play, so it's great for the fans,”; Scanlan-Leite said.

X factor: While other BIIF teams develop chemistry, St. Joe already has plenty of it through offseason play. The Cards won the Big Island's NJB summer league.

“;It's not the best players, it's the best team,”; Scanlan-Leite said. “;That's what's so nice, so special about basketball. Once in a while you get a bunch of kids who play well together, and you can do special things.”;