Furtado’s Spartans On A High

Maryknoll girls basketball head coach Chico Furtado has been around the sport all of his life, long enough to know that one game doesn’t make a season.

Even so, when his Spartans went on the road to beat a good Punahou team in its ILH opener last week, there was reason for reflection. Indeed, while they entered the weekend 10-1 overall including the preseason slate, that win best summarized their upward mobility.

“It answered some questions about how good we could be because our pre-season didn’t answer that,” said Furtado. “I don’t think we were really tested, so we were excited to play against a team of the caliber of Punahou.

“Last year, we learned early in our season that we could compete in Division I (ILH play), but all of our games were close and we went 5-5. Our mantra this year is that close is not good enough. We need to go on the road and win.”

A lifelong Kaneohe resident, Furtado is in his second year as Maryknoll head coach. He enjoyed a long successful stint with the Kalaheo boys and girls programs and was even the head coach of both for a time before Hawaii High School Athletic Association was required to shift the girls season from winter to spring. Furtado then gave up the girls program and served only as boys head coach for a few years. His new Maryknoll assignment is made more special in that he is crossing into his 25th year at the school’s Guidance and Counseling Department.

“I like it a lot,” he said. “Being a coach and working on the campus you are coaching at makes a big difference. You see the kids every day and can monitor how they’re doing in school or visit with them if there’s something else going on. Having that total connection is different for me, and I really enjoy it.”

Maryknoll’s athletic prospects got a huge boost in February of 2009, when the school opened the first gymnasium in its 82-year history. The 35,000-square foot, $21 million community center is one of the best facilities in the state.

“It’s an awesome facility – a total community center,” Furtado said. “You can host get-togethers, parent meetings. There’s a weight room, and it gives the kids a place to study. It’s also become a place for the kids who are not athletes to hang out.”

And the Spartans now enjoy a legitimate home court advantage, having had to bus to an off-campus gym previously. Furtado’s team was to host defending Division I state champion Kamehameha over the weekend. Its only loss to date was to Long Beach Poly at the recent Iolani Classic. Long Beach entered that game ranked No. 1 in the nation, according to USA Today.

Saturday’s 5 p.m. game is at Sacred Hearts.

Sophomore guard Lindsey Lee and senior Siena Shupe, both Windward players, are currently making big contributions.