Mater Dei gets the job done with Parker, press
SANTA ANA - The press gave Mater Dei a push.
Mater Dei used a fullcourt press and the scoring of La’vette Parker to beat Westchester, 67-44, Friday in a CIF Southern California Regionals Open Division first-round game at Mater Dei.
The Monarchs took control with a 28-2 run that started toward the end of the first quarter and extended deep into the second.
The Monarchs (27-4) will play Bishop Montgomery of Torrance (31-1) in the semifinals Tuesday. It is Bishop Montgomery’s home game.
Bishop Montgomery defeated St. Augustine of San Diego, 75-61, Friday. The Knights last week won the CIF-Southern Section Open Division championship. They are ranked No. 2 in CalHiSports.com’s California top 20 which has Mater Dei at No. 4.
Mater Dei beat Westchester for the second straight year in the regionals. Last year, the Monarchs defeated the Comets, 71-68, in the Open Division final as they went on to win their fourth consecutive CIF State championship.
Parker scored a game-high 23 points on 8-for-11 shooting Friday. He was 5 for 5 at the free throw line.
The Monarchs trailed Westchester, 13-2, late in the first quarter. In quick succession, Parker made a 3-pointer and converted a three-point play to reduce the Comets’ lead to 13-8 going in the second quarter.
Mater Dei went to the press and took control in the second quarter. The Monarchs took the lead for good, 16-13, on another Parker three-point play. By the time the 28-2 run was over, Mater Dei had a 30-15 lead.
It was 32-23 at halftime. The Monarchs outscored Westchester, 21-8, in the third quarter to secure the victory.
Parker said the press turned the key on the Mater Dei ignition.
“The press helped get us going,” Parker said. “We lot of tips and loose balls.”
Parker said the 13-2 deficit in the first quarter did not shake up him or his teammates.
“We don’t let the scoreboard affect us,” he said. “Whether we’re up by a lot or down by a lot, we’re going to play the same.”
Mater Dei coach Gary McKnight said the press was part of an approach that was different from how the Monarchs played in their previous game, a 52-49 loss to Etiwanda on March 3 in the CIF-SS Open Division semifinals.
“I felt that in that last game we played not to lose instead of playing to win,” McKnight said. “We wanted to be more aggressive and to use more players.”
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