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PAUL RODRIGUEZ, ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
‘So win or lose, it's a fun experience. ... Best tournament we're in every year,' Mater Dei girls basketball coach Kevin Kiernan said of the Tournament of Champions in Arizona.

TOC offers fun, tough competition

STAFF WRITER

The Nike Tournament of Champions is regarded as the top girls basketball event in the nation, perennially showcasing tomorrow’s collegiate stars and future professionals on the same court.

Mater Dei has left Phoenix the past three seasons with championship hardware, and while it will have an opportunity to defend its crown in the national division later this week, the Monarchs – and the county’s other entrants – all will return from Arizona with an unparalleled experience, matching up against some of the country’s elite.

The 18th annual TOC begins Friday and continues through Dec. 22, at the Arizona Grand Resort.

“We’ve got a young team and young guards, so the pressure will be great for them to experience,” Monarchs coach Kevin Kiernan said. “I think the best part is we’re getting to play teams from other parts of the country. We know we’re going to play Chaminade or Long Beach Poly somewhere down the road. We always do.

“For the most part though, we’re playing schools from Texas, Maryland, Georgia, Florida. So win or lose, it’s a fun experience. We’re always excited to go. Best tournament we’re in every year.”

Brea Olinda, Fairmont Prep, Los Alamitos, Huntington Beach, JSerra and Rosary will also represent Orange County when play begins later in the week.

TOURNAMENTS BEGIN

With a strong batch of county schools headed to Phoenix, locally, Orangewood Academy and Segerstrom High are also hosting tournaments this week.

The seventh annual Spartan Classic will be held at Orangewood starting today at 5 p.m. The eight-team showcase features six local schools: Orangewood Academy, Costa Mesa, Northwood, Crean Lutheran, Godinez, and University.

Mark Keppel High of Alhambra is one of two non-county schools competing this week. The Aztecs finished last season with a 26-8 record, and proved to be one of 16 teams chosen for the CIF-SS Open Division bracket.

The championship game is scheduled for Saturday at 8:30 p.m.

The Santa Ana Elks/Billy Tees Classic will also wrap up Saturday night. Foothill, Woodbridge, Corona del Mar, Canyon and Tesoro headline the 12-team tourney. All games will be held at Segerstrom High, with the title game set for 7 p.m.

BIG TIME DOUBLE-DOUBLE

Rosary’s Becky Obinma put together the best individual performance of the season last Friday, scoring 30 points and grabbing 20 rebounds in a 63-23 win over San Gabriel in the Norwalk Tourney.

Obinma is one of three Royals averaging in double figures through six games. Nikki Miller leads Rosary with 17.8 points per game, Obinma is second with 11.5 and Allison Lou averages 10.

Top 10 on the way

County top-10 rankings begins next week. Mater Dei, Brea Olinda and Troy would remain the top three ranked squads if the poll ran today.

The Monarchs (9-0) and Ladycats (5-0) remained perfect with wins Saturday. Mater Dei topped Huntington Beach to win the Bill Kristinat Classic, and Brea went on the road and edged Fairmont Prep, 63-46. Troy is 6-2, but the Warriors have faced arguably the toughest schedule in the county.

Contact the writer: kconnolly@ocregister.com


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