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Mater Dei girls continue remarkable journey in regionals
SANTA ANA - Only one team’s season survived, but Mater Dei and Valencia of Valencia’s girls basketball squads both left their CIF State Southern California Regional semifinal feeling like winners Tuesday night.
Jayda Adams scored a game-high 19 points and Cydni Lewis added 10 points and two blocks as the four-time state champion Monarchs stayed alive with a 53-45 victory against the visiting Vikings in Division II.
The second-seeded Monarchs (23-8) advance to Saturday's regional final against No. 1 Orangewood Academy, a 56-53 winner against Independence of Bakersfield, by defeating the CIF-SS Division I-AA champion Vikings (29-6) without two important starters, Emma Torbert (leg) and Madison Johnson (concussion).
As time expired, Adams stomped on the court as she moved toward her teammates.
“That was love,” said the Duke-bound Adams, who sank three 3-pointers. “We’re still in it. We could have been done a while ago and we’re still here and we’re still fighting.”
And fighting for each other, including Torbert and Johnson.
“We want to win it for them,” said the San Jose State-bound Lewis.
Mater Dei’s unity showed through its multiple defenses and bench strength.
The Monarchs used a full-court press, half-court trap, match-up scheme and in the fourth period, man-to-man defense to force 22 turnovers. Mater Dei, meanwhile, committed only six turnovers and got more opportunities to score.
Mater Dei also held Valencia’s leading scorer, Kayla Konrad, to eight points on three field goals. Konrad racked up 11 rebounds and two blocks.
“We played really hard, really good defense all night,” Mater Dei coach Kevin Kiernan said. “We threw three or four different looks at them all night just to confuse them. (Konrad) is a heck of a player.”
Lewis, a part-time starter most of the season, has been one of the Mater Dei players to help fill void left by Torbert, co-player of the year in the Trinity League with Adams. She scored four points in the fourth period.
Mater Dei’s Nikki Freeman also scored 10 points but the Monarchs bench was another weapon. Mater Dei’s bench outscored Valencia’s bench, 11-0.
Mater Dei led, 16-10, after the first period thanks to a 3-pointer in the final seconds from the corner by reserve Destiny Sambrano on an assist from reserve Sarah Rahon.
Mater Dei made 3 of 5 3-pointers in the opening quarter against Valencia’s 2-3 zone, including a pair by Adams.
Sambrano made another 3-pointer to open the second as Mater Dei forced the Vikings to chase. In the second half, Rahon banked in a 3-pointer to narrowly beat the shot clock.
“There are no weakness (on Mater Dei),” said Valencia coach Jerry Mike, who guided the Vikings to their first section title. “They’re depth is pretty good, too.”
Kenadee Honaker scored a team-high 14 points, including four 3-pointers. Point guard Chyanne Pagkalinawan added 10 points while Ashlee Ane scored 7 of her 9 in the fourth.
“It was super special,” Konrad said of the season. “I know I’m crying, but they’re tears of joy because you’ll never find a better team to play with and everyone is such a family. … There’s nothing to be sad about. It’s all happiness.”
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