Fryer on basketball: Mater Dei missed Cage, but only for one night


MJ Cage might feel like he is in a cage at times, the way he is constantly observed.

Mater Dei’s 6-foot-10 senior center was not at the Monarchs’ win over St. John Bosco on Friday. Coach Gary McKnight seemed not completely sure about the reason behind Cage’s absence with his “I think he’s sick” reply after the game to a question about Cage.

Speculation as to Cage’s status and his future at Mater Dei ensued.

McKnight happily reported that Cage was at practice Saturday. Cage, who signed with Oregon, has been bothered by knee soreness much of this season.

The Monarchs play at Servite on Wednesday and are home against JSerra on Friday in a pair of Trinity League games.

Jump stops around Orange County boys basketball:

• Teams undefeated in league going into this week: Crean Lutheran, Academy League; Esperanza and Foothill, Crestview (only one league game played apiece, so far); Cypress, Empire; Buena Park, Freeway; Garden Grove, Garden Grove; Ocean View, Golden West; El Dorado and Yorba Linda, North Hills (only one league game played apiece); Savanna, Orange; Laguna Beach, Orange Coast; Orangewood Academy and Saddleback Valley Christian, San Joaquin (only one league game played apiece); Trabuco Hills, Sea View; Aliso Niguel and San Clemente, South Coast; Los Alamitos, Sunset, and Mater Dei, Trinity.

• Top games this week: Kennedy at Cypress (like all Empire League games, it has a 6 p.m. tip-off) and Esperanza at Yorba Linda, Tuesday; Newport Harbor at Edison and Santa Margarita at JSerra, Wednesday; Beckman at University, Thursday, and Los Alamitos at Edison, Esperanza at Foothill and Fountain Valley at Newport Harbor, Friday.

• If the county boys basketball ranking was a top 25, here is how this voter would rank teams 11-25: 11. JSerra (14-6); 12. Servite (12-9); 13. Saddleback Valley Christian (11-9); 14. Northwood (16-5); 15. Capistrano Valley Christian (15-7); 16. Ocean View (17-4); 17. Beckman (15-5); 18. Corona del Mar (15-6); 19. Newport Harbor (18-4); 20. San Clemente (15-5); 21. Buena Park (17-4); 22. Trabuco Hills (14-7); 23. Aliso Niguel (10-10); 24. Laguna Beach (17-5); 25. Cypress (13-5).

• The county’s top five scoring leaders: Eyassu Worku, Los Alamitos, 25.7 points a game; Kiron Dey, University, 25.4 ppg; Evan Battey, Villa Park, 24.9 ppg; Trey Smith, Saddleback Valley Christian, 23.9 ppg, and Kezie Okpala, Esperanza, 23.4 ppg.

• Savanna’s Mark Butler was 15 for 22 from the floor Friday when he scored 34 points in the Rebels’ 84-55 win over Anaheim.

• The ankle injury that kept Villa Park star guard Myles Franklin from playing last week is a sprain toward the inside of his right ankle. An inside sprain is unusual.

• The Fairfax State Preview on Saturday at Cerritos College carries that name because its aim is to provide a look at teams that might be in the CIF Southern California Regionals, which is the qualifying tournament for the state championships. The event is living up to its name, with four teams in the top 20 in it. State No. 1 Chino Hills plays No. 2 Bishop Montgomery of Torrance at 7 p.m., preceded by state No. 11 Fairfax of Los Angeles vs. Windward of L.A. at 5 p.m. and followed by state No. 3 Sierra Canyon of Chatsworth vs. Maranatha of Pasadena at 8:30 p.m.

• The only county team in the Fairfax State Preview is Orange Lutheran, which plays Army-Navy of Carlsbad at 3:30 p.m. Lutheran and Army-Navy were included in the “on the bubble” portion of the state top 20.

• Mater Dei, ranked No. 5 in the state, plays state No. 4 Foothills Christian of El Cajon in the Nike Extravaganza at Mater Dei on Feb. 6. That game is scheduled to begin at 8:45 p.m., the last of six evening-session games that day. The last game of a six-game event rarely starts on schedule.

• Tickets for the Nike Extravaganza, Feb. 5 and 6 at Mater Dei, are on sale weekdays at the Mater Dei basketball office or the ticket window at the school’s Meruelo Athletic Center. General admission is $12 for the Friday session and for the Saturday morning and Saturday evening sessions. Reserved seating for the Saturday evening session is $22.

• The Nike Extravaganza schedule, Friday: Windward vs. JSerra, 4 p.m.; St. John Bosco vs. Village Christian of Sun Valley, 5:30 p.m.; Mater Dei girls vs. Centennial of Nevada, 7 p.m.; Mater Dei boys vs. Shadow Mountain of Phoenix, Ariz., 8:30 p.m.

• Shadow Mountain is coached by Mike Bibby, who played at Shadow Mountain before going on to Arizona and the NBA. His son, Michael Bibby, is Shadow Mountain’s best player. Mike Bibby’s father, Henry, played at UCLA and coached at USC.

• The Nike Extravaganza schedule for Saturday’s morning session: Colony of Ontario vs. Sonora, 8:30 a.m.; Palm Desert vs. Santiago of Corona, 10 a.m.; and Ayala of Chino Hills vs. Servite, 11:30 a.m. Ayala is No. 20 in the state rankings.

• The Nike Extravaganza schedule for Saturday’s evening session: Santa Margarita vs. Etiwanda, 1:15 p.m.; Fairfax vs. Los Alamitos, 2:45 p.m.; Westchester vs. Orange Lutheran, 4:15 p.m.; Centennial of Corona vs. De La Salle of Concord, 5:45 p.m.; Chino Hills vs. Bishop Gorman of Las Vegas, 7:15 p.m.; Mater Dei vs. Foothills Christian, 8:45 p.m. In the state rankings, Chino Hills is No. 1 (it’s also No. 1 in USA Today’s national rankings), Foothills Christian is No. 4, Mater Dei is No. 5, De La Salle is No. 8, Fairfax is No. 11, Westchester is No. 13 and Centennial is No. 19.

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