Mater Dei girls stop another challenger
Mater Dei girls basketball coach Kevin Kiernan was unable to attend Saturday night's game because of flu-like symptoms. But that didn't stop the Monarchs from taking out another high-profile team with a 70-52 victory over La Jolla Country Day in the Real Run Winter Classic at Long Beach City College.
Mater Dei (14-0), ranked No. 1 in the county and No. 1 in the nation by ESPN, has faced many of the top players in the country. The Torreys (6-6) are ranked No.1 in San Diego County and had one of the top recruits in the nation in Washington-bound Kelsey Plum.
"Coach told us that Kelsey is going to score a lot of the times down, so all we have to do is keep playing and keep running our offense and not get caught up in that," Mater Dei's sophomore point guard Andee Velasco said. "Just stay focused and stay on our game plan and play the way that we play."
Plum scored 30 points, but the Monarchs have some talented firepower of their own with the Samuelson sisters, Katie Lou and Karlie, who scored, 28 and 18 points, respectively, to lead Mater Dei. Velasco added 14 points and four assists.
"It's definitely battle-tested us," Velasco said of Mater Dei's rugged schedule. "We know how to handle the pressure. We've played against the best teams in the country, so we know how to handle the quickness and not get flustered when things don't go our way because we have to stay on top of everything."
Katie Lou scored 19 in the first half to give Mater Dei a 32-22 lead at halftime. Karlie scored 12 in the second half. Velasco scored nine in the second half to help Mater Dei build an 18-point lead.
Plum heated up with 12 points in the fourth quarter to cut Mater Dei's lead to nine, but Katie Lou scored seven points in the final 2 minutes as the Monarchs pulled away from La Jolla Country Day (6-6), which is ranked No. 1 in San Diego County.
Mater Dei returns to Trinity League play next week with games against Santa Margarita on Tuesday and at Orange Lutheran on Friday. Orange Lutheran is ranked No. 3 in the county.
In a nonleague game:
Fountain Valley 72, Tesoro 70: Jasmine Matar scored 20 points and Danielle Kennedy had 17 to help the Barons (8-8) hold off the visiting Titans (7-10), who trailed by nine at halftime. Lea Wodach scored a game-high 29 points with seven 3-pointers to lead Tesoro.
- CARLOS ARIAS
In the Century League:
No. 4 Brea Olinda 48, Canyon 29: A return to normalcy occurred as Brea avenged last season's defeat on Canyon's home court, defeating the Comanches.
Before last season's 64-46 home victory, Comanches coach Matt Dale said he could not remember the last time Canyon had defeated the Ladycats (11-3, 3-0). Records go back to 2004-05.
Canyon had won five in a row, but the Comanches (11-6, 1-2) faltered as Brea Olinda collected its ninth consecutive triumph.
Shaylissa Jarret and Reili Richardson each scored 11 points for the Ladycats.
If the previous meeting provided confidence for the Comanches coming into this game, the Ladycats didn't reflect on it.
"I don't think we thought about it," Ladycats coach Kim Cram-Torres said. "This group is unique, and they're trying to find their own identity."
Brea struggled early. Canyon locked the paint down on defense, holding Brea to just 1-of-13 shooting in the second quarter.
The Comanches led, 16-14, at the half, and a Tyler Prange 3-pointer to open the third quarter forced Brea to rally.
Brea countered by confronting the Comanches with a full-court press for the first time. Its offense, which had been stagnant through two quarters, came to life once the defense got aggressive.
Cram-Torres said the active defense helped ward off some first half tightness.
"I think we let a little bit of recklessness out," she said. "You can't press and not be loose."
The Wildcats opened the game up in a hurry, going on a 23-4 run to take a 37-24 lead with 5:30 remaining.
Canyon managed just 10 points after the press was implemented as turnovers plagued the Comanches. Dale put the blame on the Comanches' execution.
"Those turnovers are a direct result of us not executing our press break and not coming to the ball," he said. "As hard as (Brea) played, that's how bad we were in the second half."
Canyon returns to action Tuesday at 5:45 p.m. against El Modena. Brea Olinda will host Villa Park in a 5:45 p.m start on Tuesday.
- ANDREW TURNER, For the Register