Mater Dei's Elijah Brown pulls up for the jumper and two points Saturday night in the Jim Harris Memorial Tournament at Ocean View High School.

Brown's hot hand carries Mater Dei to title


HUNTINGTON BEACH – Senior guard Elijah Brown's jump shot wasn't falling Friday night, but he was still able to be effective. On Saturday night, it was a different story.

Brown scored 33 points, including three 3-pointers, as No.1 Mater Dei defeated No.3 JSerra, 87-66, in the Jim Harris Tournament of Champions title game at Ocean View.

Brown was hot out of the gate, hitting a 3-pointer to begin the game as the Monarchs (5-0) never trailed. With Mater Dei up 12-10 late in the first, Brown scored six in a row to end the quarter. Brown hit a leaner and then stole the inbounds pass and was fouled on a three-pointer with no time left in the quarter. He made two of three to give the Monarchs an 18-10 lead after one.

Coach Gary McKnight was proud of his senior.

"Elijah (Brown) didn't shoot well last night but found a way to still play well. Tonight, his shot was falling and he was able to score for us," McKnight said.

In the second quarter, tournament MVP Jordan Strawberry showed why he's one of the top point guards around. Strawberry made a three-pointer, and then a lay-up to push the lead to 12. On the next Monarchs possession, he found junior Mario Soto in the corner off a penetrating move to the basket, and Soto made a three. The Monarchs led 38-22 at the half.

The Lions (6-2) were in a bit of foul trouble early as brothers Rex and Devon Pflueger picked up fouls.

In the third, the Monarchs pushed the lead up to 24.

The teams will square off later in the season during Trinity League play, but McKnight knows the league is becoming tougher every year.

"I strongly dislike playing a league team in the preseason. Our league is turning into the ACC because it's so competitive," said McKnight.

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