Mater Dei gets its wish: another shot at Chaminade


SANTA ANA – The revenge tour for Mater Dei’s girls basketball team kicked off in impressive fashion Tuesday night.

Katie Lou Samuelson sank five of the Monarchs’ eight 3-pointers and was part of a defense that limited visiting Long Beach Poly to its third-lowest output as Mater Dei collected a 60-44 victory in the semifinals of the CIF Southern California Regional Open Division.

Last season, Long Beach Poly defeated Mater Dei, 64-46, in the regional semifinals en route to the Open Division state title.

“I’m not in the revenge business, but we remembered,” Mater Dei coach Kevin Kiernan said of last season’s game, which also was played at Mater Dei. “They ended our season last year and they beat us good … and you have to live with that for a year.”

But behind 30 points from the Connecticut-bound Samuelson and 17 from point guard Andee Velasco, the Monarchs (30-2) wiped away the Jackrabbits (26-4) and turned their focus to the regional final.

Mater Dei will play Saturday against Chaminade of West Hills, which has defeated Mater Dei twice this season, both times by a single point. The game will be at Walter Pyramid in Long Beach at 6 p.m.

Chaminade edged Mater Dei, 64-63, in the CIF-SS Open Division final.

“They beat us twice – our only two losses of the season – so we’re definitely going to come out just trying to take it from them,” Samuelson said of Chaminade, a 79-40 winner against Clovis West on Tuesday. “We’re the underdog this game. … Our team is going to be ready.”

Kiernan and Samuelson both said the Monarchs built momentum for Chaminade on Tuesday. The Jackrabbits might not be as fast as Chaminade but they’re quick, and Mater Dei’s defense held them to 35 percent shooting from the field, including only one 3-pointer.

“We’ve been letting people score way too easily,” Kiernan said. "(Tonight) we did our (full-court) press without trapping. We kind of just kept retreating, keeping them in front of us, so by the time they got into their offense, they only had 10 or 11 seconds left in the shot clock. ... We just wanted to slow them down, make them take time off the clock, and hopefully take a bad shot. More often than not, it worked."

Samuelson (seven rebounds) praised the defense of Jayda Adams and freshman Nikki Freeman.

The Monarchs' defense also got a big block from Ally Rosenblum in the third to help blow open the score. Rosenblum blocked a shot by Poly's Eliza Matthews that led to a 3-pointer by Velasco in the corner for a 34-20 lead with 3:32 left in the period. Samuelson recorded the assist.

"Andee Velasco played an awesome game overall," Samuelson said of the LMU-bound senior, who also drew a charge on defense.

Mater Dei also shot 35 percent from the floor but did more damage from the 3-point line and foul line. Velasco (five assists) made two 3-pointers while Adams added one. The Monarchs made 22 of 25 free throws behind Samuelson (9 for 9) and Velasco (9 for 10).

Matthews paced Poly with 14 points and five blocks.

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