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2014-15 Register's basketball player of the year: Rex Pflueger, Mater Dei
Maybe it was a clutch basket. Perhaps it was a crucial rebound.
It could be a great pass or a gutsy defensive effort.
Somehow in some way, and oftentimes in every way, Rex Pflueger made a major contribution to a victory by the Mater Dei boys baskeball team this season.
Pflueger not only provided big plays but also supplied senior leadership as the Monarchs finished as the No. 2 team in the state and were the only Orange County boys team to play in a state championship game.
For those remarkable contributions, Pflueger is the Register’s Orange County Player of the Year for the 2014-15 season.
The 6-foot-6 senior guard was Trinity League co-player of the year with teammate junior MJ Cage. Pflueger was All-CIF in the Open Division and is one of six finalists for the state player of the year award selected by CalHiSports.com.
The Monarchs finished 29-5 overall and 10-0 in the Trinity League. Pflueger was Mater Dei’s leading scorer (16.9 points per game) and for assists (3.4) and steals (3). He was second in rebounding at 6.2 a game.
Calling him an all-around player would be received by Pflueger as the highest compliment.
“I always loved the small things about basketball, the meticulous things,” he said. “Whether it’s reading a pass to make a steal, or just playing help-side defense.”
Those small things were big to college basketball coaches. He had offers from many schools before deciding upon Notre Dame. Pflueger signed with Notre Dame in November before his senior season started.
Mater Dei fell short of winning CIF section and state championships. The Monarchs lost in the CIF-Southern Section Open Division semifinals to Etiwanda and to Bishop O’Dowd of Oakland in the CIF State Open Division final. Pflueger was good in both of those games.
He scored 12 points with a team-high 10 rebounds against Etiwanda. He scored a team-high 19 points against O’Dowd.
The Monarchs needed a strong game from Pflueger to beat Fairfax of Los Angeles in the CIF Southern California Regional Open Division final. They got it. Pflueger scored a game-high 23 points on 9-for-15 shooting with three steals in Mater Dei’s 51-40 win that sent the Monarchs to the state championship game.
Mater Dei coach Gary McKnight gave Pflueger much responsibility this season.
“Rex guards the other team’s best player,” McKnight said. “He’s done that the last two years. This year, his offense caught up to his defense.”
One of his better scoring weeks came in January as the Monarchs played Orange Lutheran and Santa Margarita in Trinity League games. Pflueger scored 27 points with 15 rebounds in Mater Dei’s 73-69 win at Santa Margarita, ranked No. 3 in Orange County at the time. He scored 25 with seven rebounds and five assists in a 70-51 home win over No. 2 Orange Lutheran.
During the Duke-Wisconsin NCAA championship game on Monday, TV analyst Bill Raftery made this comment about a player who was not scoring but contributing in other ways. Typical of Raftery, the wording was odd but the point clear: “If you’re not ringing the bell, do something with your other activity.”
Ringing the bell or not, Pflueger found plenty to do with his other activity.
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