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Cage makes sure Mater Dei extends Trinity League reign
At the end of the night, Mater Dei’s boys basketball team could say it had done what was expected.
The top-ranked Monarchs extended their reign as king of the Trinity League, clinching their 28th consecutive league title with a victory over a short-handed Orange Lutheran team.
MJ Cage had 12 points, 12 rebounds, five assists and four blocks in leading the host Monarchs past the Lancers, 67-51, in front of a senior night crowd at Mater Dei.
“It feels good because I didn’t want to be the year that ends the streak of winning league titles,” Cage said. “It’s a great senior night, so we wanted to win it for all the parents and the fans.”
The third-ranked Lancers (20-6, 7-2) played without starting center KaVaughn Scott (ankle) and point guard Joseph Riley (illness). That took 23.3 points and 10.8 rebounds per game out of the Orange Lutheran lineup.
With a share of the league title on the line, the Lancers did not back down.
They were efficient in the first half, as Chris Williams (15 points) led the way as the Lancers shot 57.1 percent from the field. Orange Lutheran trailed, 34-29, at the break.
“They shot the ball really well,” Monarchs coach Gary McKnight said. “Defensively, I think we looked down and saw them without two starters and didn’t take it as seriously as we should have.”
The Monarchs regrouped in the third quarter, going to a big lineup that bothered the Lancers’ shooters. Mater Dei outscored the Lancers, 15-6, in the third quarter, and led by double digits the rest of the way.
Scott is considered day-to-day, according to Lancers coach Chris Nordstrom, who added that the center’s return for the first round of the playoffs is “a realistic goal.”