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NICK AGRO, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
Mater Dei senior Katie Lou Samuelson lifts herself up after falling as Chaminade celebrates their victory Saturday over Mater Dei in the CIF-SS Open Division final.

Mater Dei dealt crushing loss by Chaminade

STAFF WRITER

AZUSA – The walk across the court – back to their locker room – seemed endless for Mater Dei’s players and coaches alike.

There wasn’t a dry eye among any of the Monarchs, and walking past the Chaminade postgame celebration certainly wasn’t going to help matters.

The Eagles led for a grand total of 3.8 seconds in the second half of Saturday night’s championship showdown. Unfortunately for Mater Dei, those ticks of the clock proved to be the final ones.

Trailing by one point late, Chaminade sophomore Isabel Newman grabbed an offensive rebound on her baseline and proceeded to hit the game-winning 15-footer with 3.8 seconds remaining, giving Chaminade of West Hills a stunning 64-63 victory over Mater Dei in the CIF-Southern Section Open Division championship game Saturday night at Azusa Pacific University.

“There’s really no words,” Mater Dei coach Kevin Kiernan said moments after the game. “They’re going to hurt. They’re going to hurt for a while. … They put a lot into this season to get back to this spot and it’s going to hurt. I don’t know if I can help that tonight.”

For the second consecutive season, the Monarchs lost in the Open Division final. While the fashion in which they lost made this year’s game more devastating, so too did the opponent.

Chaminade (25-3) was the only team that had defeated Mater Dei entering Saturday’s finale. The Eagles knocked off the Monarchs back in November, ironically enough, by a single point as well, 60-59.

“Chaminade has an ability to turn it up a level,” Kiernan said. “We don’t have a different level.”

Mater Dei (28-2) was ahead by 14 midway through the third.

Behind point guard Paige Fecske (25 points), the Eagles were able to cut the deficit to 56-47 headed into the fourth.

Trailing, 62-59, with 52 seconds left, Fecske drilled a corner 3, tying the game for the first time since the 1:08 mark in the first quarter.

Mater Dei’s Marina LaPuzza sank one of two free throws. Then Newman scored for Chaminade.

With the full length of the court to travel and only 3.8 seconds remaining, Katie Lou Samuelson (31 points) was unable to get off a clean shot as she was trapped at half court by a pair of Chaminade defenders.

A potential round three between these two teams is quite possible, as regional playoffs begin next week.

Contact the writer: kconnolly@ocregister.com


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