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Johnson powers Mater Dei past St. John Bosco
BELLFLOWER - Mater Dei forward Stanley Johnson said he felt the pressure to perform in a boys basketball showdown against St. John Bosco of Bellflower on Wednesday night.
To say he handled it well would be an understatement.
The standout junior forward scored 25 points, grabbed 21 rebounds, dished out five assists and committed only one turnover as the top-ranked Monarchs pulled off a 79-67 victory in a Trinity League game at St. John Bosco.
Johnson played 28:45 of the possible 32 minutes.
“He’s the best in big games,” Mater Dei coach Gary McKnight said of Johnson. “He always has been. These types of games, he loves it. He likes the crowd … 25 points, 21 rebounds, five assists … that’s a pretty good performance.”
Johnson scored 17 of his 25 points in the second half.
“I felt like it was all on me. I felt like this was the game of my career,” Johnson said. “I played the hardest I could.”
Mater Dei (17-0, 3-0) and St. John Bosco (10-2, 2-1) both went into the game ranked in the top five in the state by CalHiSports – Mater Dei at No. 2; St. John Bosco at No. 5. The teams will meet again in league play on Jan. 30 at Mater Dei.
Johnson was 11-of-18 shooting (61 percent) from the field, and rarely did he let the Monarchs down when they needed a basket.
“I wanted to get my hand on the ball,” Johnson said.
“I took one ill-advised shot that I didn’t think was good, but other than that, I thought I took some good shots.”
Mater Dei’s lead in the fourth quarter hovered around double digits until a 3-pointer by the Braves’ Darien Williams cut the score to 69-62.
After that, Mater Dei scored six consecutive points (a basket by Johnson and four free throws by Elijah Brown) for a 75-62 lead.
“At any point in time, Isaac (Hamilton), Daniel (Hamilton), those guys can make shots,” Johnson said. “The game wasn’t over until the bell, for me. The whole game was competitive.”
Brown helped put the game away in the fourth quarter, scoring 10 points. He finished with 25.
“That’s a good 1-2 combo,” McKnight said of Johnson and Brown.
Defensively, Mater Dei’s greatest challenge was finding a way to slow down Bosco’s perimeter players, Tyler Dorsey and Daniel and Isaac Hamilton.
Dorsey shot 3 of 11 from the field. Isaac Hamilton scored 25 points, but took 23 shots, and Daniel Hamilton scored 12 points.
“It was a good defensive night,” McKnight said. “Their perimeter guys are all D1 players, we wanted to slow those three guys down. It was not easy.”
One key turning point came in the first half. With Mater Dei clinging to a 27-26 lead, both Johnson and Daniel Hamilton were assessed technical fouls with 3:37 left in the second quarter.
Following that, Mater Dei went on a quick 6-0 run to take a 33-26 lead.
At the end of the first half, Chris Nealey was left wide open and he drilled a 3-pointer as time expired to give Mater Dei a 38-30 lead at the break.
The Monarchs have now defeated JSerra and St. John Bosco in league play. They will get their first opportunity to play Orange Lutheran on Friday night.