SANTA ANA - Troy tuned up for its showdown against Mater Dei with a 60-46 victory over St. Bernard of Playa del Rey in a pool-play game at the Matt Denning Hoops Classic on Thursday at Mater Dei High.
After two blowout victories over Warren of Downey and Workman of City of Industry, St. Bernard gave the Warriors a fight. The Vikings actually led Troy, 6-2, early on before the Warriors went on a 6-0 run to take the lead for the remainder of the game.
Once again, it was "The Big Three" - Oregon State-bound Gabriella Hanson, Stanford-bound Briana Roberson and Denver-bound Alecia Dimas - that came through for the Warriors.
"I thought we played well overall in the half court," Troy coach Roger Anderson said. "Our senior leadership again came out big. Alecia, Gabby and Briana played great games in all facets. It was good to see.
"We didn't pressure them and run all over the floor because we were trying to get through this game, so we can get to the next game. We wanted to get through and be somewhat rested."
Troy had a 15-14 edge after one quarter, but three quick baskets by Dimas to start the second quarter gave the Warriors a seven-point cushion.
Roberson had some foul trouble in the first half, but she ended up knocking down three 3-pointers in the second half to help Troy (7-0) pull away from St. Bernard (6-2). She finished with 15 points. Hanson finished with a team-high 16 points and Dimas had 12 points.
"We gave up 16 points in cherry-picking, throwing deep and we know better than that, and we didn't get back and they burned us," Anderson said. "They got us for eight points in the first (half) and eight in the second (half), throwing deep over the top after we shoot. They send two girls back and we didn't defend it. That's something we've gotta account for. We eventually made good adjustments."
Now that the prelims have been taken care of it's time for the main event. Mater Dei, ranked No. 1 in the county, No. 3 in the state by CalHiSports.com and No. 4 in the nation by USA Today, will meet Troy, ranked No. 2 in the county, No. 12 in the state and No. 25 in the nation, for the Matt Denning Hoops Classic championship on Friday at 7:45 p.m. at Mater Dei High.
"We have a lot of these on our schedule," Anderson said. "Mater Dei is the first of many. We set it up so we have a really challenging schedule. They are extremely good at shooting the ball. We've gotta defend it, so it's going to be real interesting. Our girls are looking forward to it. You know, Mater Dei is the king of Orange County until someone beats them. We have to take one game at a time and right now they are our next game.
"It's a good challenge. They are so well-coached with (head coach) Kevin (Kiernan) and (assistant coach) Pete (Bonny) that you know everything you do, if you do it wrong, will be exposed. You have to play smart. That's where our senior leadership comes in and the addition of having Briana Roberson and Gabby and Alecia on the court, with Bri healthy now, is huge for us."
Kiernan coached at Troy, leading the Warriors to three state championships before taking the job at Mater Dei in the 2007-08 season.
"I've watched them play three times and we scrimmaged them once," Kiernan said of Troy. "They are the best team I've seen, and we went to Fresno (last week) and played some good teams. They've got some size, they can shoot, they handle the ball reall, they're quick, they can press ... I don't know if anybody in the county can beat them. I mean, they are really good.
"They've been kind of pointing to this year. These three kids - Roberson, Hanson and Dimas - have come up together. They've been on varsity for four years and they are ready. They want to win and they are hungry too."