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Mater Dei's Justice Sueing, left, and Bol Bol try to stop Bishop Montgomery's Fletcher Tynen during the Monarchs' 70-55 loss in the CIF-SS Open Division championship game at Honda Center in Anaheim, on Saturday, March 4, 2017. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Mater Dei bid for CIF-SS Open title denied by Bishop Montgomery's strong finish

STAFF WRITER

ANAHEIM – Bishop Montgomery of Torrance was too quick, too accurate and just too good.

Mater Dei lost to Bishop Montgomery, 70-55, Saturday in the CIF-Southern Section Open Division championship game at Honda Center.

Ethan Thompson led Bishop Montgomery’s Knights with 23 points. David Singleton scored 21 for the Knights and Jordan Schakel added 16 points for the winners.

Bol Bol led Mater Dei with 15 points and seven rebounds. Justice Sueing scored 11 points and Spencer Freedman contributed 10 points for the Monarchs.

Mater Dei (31-2) and Bishop Montgomery (27-2), like every team in the 16-team Open Division playoffs, are in the CIF Southern California Regionals that start next week.

Bishop Montgomery shot 46 percent from the floor. That’s not spectacular, and not all that much better than Mater Dei’s 43 percent.

The Knights were superior to the Monarchs behind the 3-point arc. Mater Dei was 2 for 11 there. Bishop Montgomery was 9 for 24.

In the fourth quarter, in which Bishop Montgomery outscored Mater Dei, 32-11, the Knights were 9 for 11 from the floor and 3 for 4 on 3-pointers. They also were 11 for 12 at the free-throw line in the quarter.

Mater Dei was 4 for 17 from the floor in the fourth quarter. The Monarchs were 0 for 5 on 3s in the fourth quarter.

The Knights moved the ball around on offensive with speed and precision. That created plenty of open shots.

“They distributed the ball really well,” Freedman said. “They had better looks than we did.”

Mater Dei had a 51-48 lead with five minutes left in the fourth quarter. Thompson was fouled while attempting a 3-pointer that missed, and made the three free throws to tie it, 51-51.

A game-changing, crowd-charging play soon followed, Thompson drove to the basket and somehow avoided Bol’s block attempt to smash the ball through the hoop. That gave Bishop Montgomery the lead for good.

The Knights continued to accelerate. They went on a 14-1 run that included back-to-back 3s by Schakel and Gianni Hunt.

“Usually,” Mater Dei coach Gary McKnight said, “it’s really difficult to shoot in the arena. They didn’t find it that way.”

Bishop Montgomery won the 2015 CIF-SS Open Division championship. Saturday’s win is the Knights’ seventh CIF-SS boys basketball title.

Mater Dei was trying for its 23rd CIF-SS championship. The Monarchs’ most recent title was in 2014 when they won the first Open Division title. That was also their most-recent trip to a sectional championship game.

McKnight’s record in the CIF-SS playoff games remains strong – 143-13.

The Monarchs’ other loss this season was to Chino Hills in December. Mater Dei beat Chino Hills last week in the Open Division semifinals.

In the other half of that much-hyped doubleheader at USC’s Galen Cener, Bishop Montgomery defeated Sierra Canyon of Chatsworth. Sierra Canyon was the top-seeded team in the Open Division and last week was No. 1 in the state rankings.

McKnight speculated that the Knights were better than his team at moving past last week’s semifinals buzz to get ready for Saturday’s final.

“They had a huge upset win over the No. 1 seed Sierra Canyon,” McKnight said, “and we had a huge emotional win over Chino Hills. You wouldn’t think so, but maybe trying to win a CIF championship was anticlimactic.”

Bol, a 7-foot- junior center, did not start Saturday, having arrived late to Honda Center. McKnight said Bol’s transportation arrived late to take him from his home to Honda Center.

“I blame Uber,” McKnight said.

Bol entered the game halfway through the first quarter.

Contact the writer: sfryer@scng.com


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