Mater Dei's MJ Cage shoots past Orange Lutheran's KaVaughn Scott during the Monarchs' 71-62 Trinity League victory Tuesday night at Orange Lutheran.

Free-throw shooting battle goes to No. 1 Mater Dei


ORANGE – Top-ranked Mater Dei beat No. 4 Orange Lutheran, 71-62, Tuesday night in a Trinity League boys basketball opener that was largely decided at the free-throw line.

Orange Lutheran was 12 for 25 at the free-throw line in its home gym. Mater Dei was 20 for 24 at the line.

Spencer Freedman was 8 for 8 at the line in the fourth quarter. Freedman, a sophomore guard who transferred from Santa Monica, made all 14 of his free throws and finished with a game-high 19 points.

Justice Sueing, a 6-foot-7 junior, scored 14 points for the Monarchs, who improved to 14-2. MJ Cage, a 6-10 senior who signed with Oregon, had 10 points, 11 rebounds and four blocked shots. Sophomore forward Harrison Butler scored 10 points and had five rebounds.

Orange Lutheran 6-3 junior guard Chris Williams scored 17 points, including four 3-pointers, to lead the Lancers (12-3). Junior point guard Joseph Riley scored 16 for Lutheran.

Riley was 8 for 9 at the free-throw line, and his teammates were 4 for 16.

The Lancers trailed by 14 points early in the fourth quarter. Riley and Williams made two 3-pointers each to propel a Lutheran rally. Riley’s second 3 reduced Mater Dei’s lead to 61-55 with 1:22 remaining.

Lutheran fouled Freedman to stop the clock, but Freedman’s faultless free-throw shooting kept the Monarchs on top.

Mater Dei shot 23 for 50 from the floor. Lutheran was 20 for 53.

The Monarchs, who were 2-2 last week in the prestigious, national-level Beach Ball Classic in South Carolina, had a 100 percent healthy roster Tuesday for one of the few times this season. Mater Dei coach Gary McKnight said it might take awhile for the players to become synchronized.

“It’s just not flowing right,” McKnight said of the Monarchs offense. “We’re coming together slowly.”

He said he was pleased to get the win against the Lancers, who were consistently energetic.

“It was a great effort by both teams,” McKnight said. “A typical opening night in the Trinity League. Another battle.”

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