Spartans sparked
by defense

Anyone who's been around basketball practice has heard a coach profess the importance of free throws and team defense.

With star point guard Tyler Tsukazaki running the show, Maryknoll proved both to be true, defeating Mid-Pacific 57-41 at Saint Louis School. The Spartans made 15 of 17 second-half free throws and played stingy team defense in an opening-round win in the ILH tournament to determine the third and final league team to advance to next week's HHSAA State Boys' Basketball Tournament.

"We do practice free throws," Maryknoll head coach Blaine Gier said. "We haven't been hitting too often this year, but the boys know the urgency to hit now that it's the postseason."

Tsukazaki, who entered the contest among ILH leaders averaging over 16 points per game, has been a marked man in league play this year.

"Everybody's been double-teaming him and using the box-and-one against us this year," Gier said. "We've been trying to find a way to play without him a little bit because we can't expect him to do everything."

Last night, the athletic junior scored only five points, but sparked the Spartans with a game-high five assists. More importantly, Tsukazaki ran an efficient offense, and was key as Maryknoll ran out the clock for the final 3 minutes of the game.

With Mid-Pacific (2-13) pressing and fouling selected Maryknoll shooters, Tsukazaki was able to weave through the Owl defense and keep the clock cranking.

"This was our best effort of the year," Tsukazaki said. "Everybody contributed and stepped up in defense and we were looking for each other on offense. It was a total team win."

With the victory, Maryknoll advances to play Kamehameha in Kapalama tomorrow at 6 p.m.

"Kamehameha is a very good shooting team and they're very disciplined," Gier said. "They play really well on the perimeter and on the inside and they'll be a little bigger and quicker than us, so we'll need to execute."

At McCabe Gym
Mid-Pacific (2-13) 9 11 5 16 -- 41
Maryknoll (4-11) 11 13 15 18 -- 57
MID-PACIFIC--Bryson Beirne 3, Grant Gannon 0, Daniel Gordon 8, J.D. Lum 11, Kellen Hastie 15, Chris Young 4, Jarryd Yasui 0, Steve Hilton 0.
MARYKNOLL--Tyler Tsukazaki 5, Tommy Nguyen 3, Simeon Ke-Paloma 2, Chris Lum 10, Zachary Misajon 7, Richardson Talavera 0, Kyle Lambert 0, Riley Tang 11, Chris Hsia 3, Jordan Ho-Ching 12, Richard Herring 4.
3-point goals -- Mid-Pacific 2 (Daniel 2), Maryknoll 3 (Nguyen, Tang, Misajon).

Damien 46, University 45

The underdog Monarchs (4-12) used a tireless defense and a layup by Antonio Cerezo as time expired to post their second win in as many nights, defeating the Jr. 'Bows.

University (7-8) teeter-tottered into the lead with 24 seconds left when David Johnson made the front end of two free throws. The Junior Rainbows regained possession on Johnson's miss, prompting coach Walter Quitan to motion for a timeout.

Devin Shiroma fired off a 3-point attempt from the top of the key, but could not connect. Mike Sipili's putback was well short, but Cerezo never stopped charging the basket, catching and shooting in one motion while airborne to put in the game-winner, prompting a number of Damien students to charge the floor.

The Monarchs will play Saint Louis tomorrow at 6 p.m. at McCabe Gym.

At McCabe Gym
Damien (4-12) 8 10 14 14 -- 46
University (7-8) 12 9 14 10 -- 45
DAMIEN--Justin Casil 4, Devin Shiroma 7, Matthew Gochenouer 11, Michael Sipili 6, Garyk Ontai 6, Antonio Cerezo Jr. 6, Winni Boy Gapuz 4, Lolomana Mikaele 0, Brad Akiona 2.
UNIVERSITY-- Scott Nishimoto 9, Matt Bayan 1, Alfred Clark 0, John Duro 13, David Johnson 16, Rance Yanabu 2, Lucion Holyfield 4, Trey Parras 0.
3-point goals -- Damien 3 (Gochenour, Shiroma, Cerezo), University 1 (Nishimoto).

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