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Etiwanda holds down Mater Dei in 1AA battle
ANAHEIM – Mater Dei players will be reminded of 2010. And they will be educated about the school's 2007 and 2008 boys basketball teams.
Those teams did not win CIF-Southern Section championships but went on to win CIF State titles.
So that is what this season's Mater Dei team will try to duplicate. The Monarchs were denied a Southern Section championship Saturday when they lost to Etiwanda, 54-51, in the Division 1AA championship game at Anaheim Convention Center.
Mater Dei made a torrid rally in the game's final two minutes, turning a 13-point deficit into a last-second opportunity to tie the score and send it into overtime.
Mater Dei junior Stanley Johnson's leaning 3-point shot at the buzzer bounced off the front of the rim as the final buzzer sounded. Monarchs senior Elijah Brown kept his team alive with a 3-pointer and a driving basket in the final minute.
The Monarchs trailed by 13 going into the fourth quarter. Through three quarters, they had made only 9 of 34 shots but then went 7 for 15 from the floor in the final eight minutes.
Mater Dei (30-2) already had qualified for the CIF Southern California Regionals when it advanced to the section semifinals.
It is probable that Mater Dei will be sent to the Open Division, which is new to the state tournament this year. Mater Dei's other loss was to St. Edward of Lakewood, Ohio.
The Monarchs won section and state championships the past two seasons.
Etiwanda (27-2) won its second CIF-SS boys basketball championship.
Brown finished with a game-high 21 points, including three 3-pointers. Johnson scored 18 with 13 rebounds. Jordan Strawberry scored 10 points for Mater Dei.
Kenny Barnes led Etiwanda with 16 points. Standout junior guard Jordan McLaughlin scored 14 and Delewis Johnson scored 12.
Etiwanda had the superior depth Saturday. Eagles reserves scored 14 points and Mater Dei got zero points from its bench.
Etiwanda was a hot-shooting team from 3-point range early. The game before, El Toro's loss to Santa Monica in the 1A final, the teams combined to shoot 4for 35 on 3-pointers (El Toro was 2 for 24). The Eagles made their first six attempts from behind the arc, two by McLaughlin from NBA 3-point territory, and had a 29-21 lead at halftime.
Etiwanda coach Dave Kleckner liked his team's defensive effort.
"That's what we hang our hat on," he said. "We came out and played outstanding defense from start to finish."
Having held Mater Dei to nine points in the second quarter, Etiwanda limited the Monarchs to that many again in the third. The Eagles took a 43-30 lead into the fourth quarter.
Etiwanda extended the margin to 17 points early in the final quarter before Mater Dei's comeback fell just short.
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