Top-seeded Mater Dei, champion of the Trinity League, defeated Corona, 95-40, in the first round; Long Beach Jordan, 103-77, in the second round; Los Alamitos, 80-60, in the quarterfinals; and Rancho Verde of Moreno Valley, 94-58, in the semifinals.
Etiwanda, champion of the Baseline League, defeated Palmdale, 64-41, in the first round; Trabuco Hills, 62-34, in the second round; Centennial of Corona, 78-72, in the quarterfinals; and Long Beach Poly, 61-58, in the semifinals.
Mater Dei – Tyler Lamb (6-5, Sr., G, 18 ppg); Gary Franklin (6-3, Sr., G, 17 ppg); Katin Reinhardt (6-4, So., G, 9 ppg); Max Hooper (6-6, Sr., F, 9 ppg); Keala King (6-6, Sr., F, 17 ppg).
OUTLOOK: Mater Dei, ranked No. 1 in California, has lost three consecutive CIF-SS championship games at Honda Center. But, overall, the Monarchs have won 19 of their 23 previous CIF-SS finals, and have won 11 CIF-SS championship games in that arena.
This is the 24th CIF-SS finals appearance in Gary McKnight's 28 seasons coaching Mater Dei.
Three Monarchs signed with Pac-10 schools: Franklin, with Cal; King, with Arizona State; and Lamb, with UCLA. Starting point guard Tommy Stangl had foot surgery two weeks ago. That moved Reinhardt into the starting five, and switched Franklin from shooting guard to point guard, a position he has played many times at Mater Dei.
The Monarchs' average margin of victory in the playoffs is 34.
“We're playing very well right now,” McKnight said. “I'm very happy with our effort and energy level. All five starters are offensive threats, which makes it very hard to guard us, and bench is strong, too.”
Etiwanda coach Dave Kleckner understands the challenge.
“Our goal is to play a perfect game,” Kleckner said, “and that's what we'll need to do against Mater Dei.
Kleckner has coached at Etiwanda for 14 seasons. The Eagles have won seven straight league championships. They lost to Mater Dei in last year's 1AA semifinals, and lost to M.L. King of Riverside in the 2008 1A final at Honda Center.
Etiwanda won the 1AA final in 2005 at Honda Center. Kleckner said defense is Etiwanda's strength.
“We play hard-nosed, man-to-man defense,” he said. “Offensively, we're a motion team. We don't run a lot of plays, but we just let our players read and react.”