Mater Dei's one-two punch too much for Servite


SANTA ANA – For MJ Cage and Michael Wang, practice makes perfect and Friday night they certainly looked the part.

“Whenever we’re in practice, we want to be on the same team because we both pass the ball and we both give each other a lot of scoring opportunities.” Cage said. “It is fun playing with him.”

Wang led the top-ranked Monarchs with 20 points and Cage had 16, 15 rebounds and four blocks to lead the way to a commanding 76-40 Trinity League victory over visiting eighth-ranked Servite.

Wang made 8 of 11 shots from the field, while Cage made 6 of 10.

“It is a lot easier,” Wang said of having Cage on the court. “He’s a great player, he passes well and dominates the paint.”

Cage and Wang’s early offense and passing in the early stages against Servite’s zone defense helped get the Monarchs going.

“We’ve been practicing a long time, just me and Cage, our high-low game and we were really good at that,” Wang said. “We knew they were going to zone us, we had a lot of zone sets, so we knew how to swing the ball and get our teammates open shots.”

Cage had seven points in the first quarter with Wang eventually leading the way with 12 first-half points.

“They’re very good together,” Mater Dei coach Gary McKnight said of Wang and Cage.

Mater Dei (15-2, 2-0) led 38-14 at halftime. The Monarchs scored seven consecutive points to open the third quarter to stretch their lead to 31.

Pearson Parker led the Friars (12-5, 0-1) with 12 points. Parker had seven of his 12 in the first quarter.

Anastacios Marcopolous and Cameron Griffin had 11 apiece.

The teams met in the semifinals for the North Orange County Championships on Dec. 18 with Mater Dei winning, 65-53.

Cage, along with Bailey Stout and Matt Weyand, missed the Dec. 1 meeting against Servite. Stout didn’t score Friday, but had six assists and Weyand had eight points.

Harrison Butler also had eight points, with Justice Suening and Reagan Lundeen chipping in with six. Spencer Freedman had five.

“When we share the ball, we’re a really good team,” McKnight said. “Our interior passing was good, guard play, defensively we put our game plan together and the kids followed. I thought we played real well.”

Mater Dei returns to league play Monday against JSerra. Servite resumes against Orange Lutheran Wednesday.

Mater Dei and Servite will meet one final time, Jan. 27 at Servite.

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