Mater Dei's Stanley Johnson gets past Orange Lutheran's Payton Banks during the Monarchs' 75-59 victory over the Lancers in Orange Friday night.
See more photos from this game in the OCVarsity Hot Shots slideshow.

Johnson works more magic for Mater Dei


ORANGE – It's not just that Stanley Johnson is very good.

It's that he is at his very best when it matters the most.

Johnson scored 18 points in the second half as Mater Dei defeated Orange Lutheran, 75-59, in a Trinity League game Friday night at Orange Lutheran.

When Mater Dei played St. John Bosco of Bellflower on Wednesday in a matchup of teams ranked in the state top 5, Johnson scored 17 points in the second half.

Johnson on Friday finished with 29 points, eight rebounds and five steals. The 6-foot-7 junior was 10 for 17 from the floor and made five 3-pointers. On Wednesday against Bosco, Johnson scored 25 points with 21 rebounds.

And all of this has veteran Mater Dei coach Gary McKnight placing a special label on Johnson.

"He might be the best we've ever had," McKnight said.

OCVarsity Hot Shots: Friday's basketball games

Mater Dei (18-0, 4-0) is ranked No. 1 in Orange County and No. 2 in California, behind Long Beach Poly. Orange Lutheran (15-3, 2-2) is No. 4 in the county. The Lancers' other league loss was to St. John Bosco.

Johnson can be steady and spectacular. In a wild 30-second sequence in the fourth quarter, he blocked a shot by Lutheran's Payton Banks, Lutheran's Brian Beard made a steal and passed to Banks, who had another shot blocked, by Elijah Brown, and at the other end Johnson finished it with a 3-pointer that gave Mater Dei a 62-46 lead.

"When Stanley makes 3s like that ... I don't know," Lutheran coach Chris Nordstrom said. "Those are killers. Because of his size and his ability to do things on the perimeter, that's just a tough combination."

Johnson and Banks, two of Orange County's top players, guarded each either much of the game. The game also featured a matchup of two of the county's better point guards, with Lutheran's Beard and Mater Dei's Jordan Strawberry. Beard and Strawberry had five assists apiece, and Beard had three steals.

Banks led Lutheran with 17 points, but he struggled to get there, making only 7 of 22 shots.

Brown scored 14 points with six rebounds. Strawberry scored 11 points.

Lutheran led briefly, 9-8, in the first quarter. Mater Dei took over from there. The Monarchs had an 18-9 lead at the end of the first quarter, led by 14 points at halftime and took a 57-40 advantage into the fourth quarter.

Lutheran was able to cut the Mater Dei lead to 12 points, but Monarchs freshman M.J. Cage made a jump hook and Mater Dei went on another run.

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