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Mater Dei onslaught too much for No. 2 Troy
SANTA ANA - Pro wrestling legend Ric Flair said it best: "To be the man, you have to beat the man, WOOO!"
Mater Dei's girls basketball team is still the man -- so to speak -- in Orange County.
Top-ranked Mater Dei made a statement with its emphatic 61-25 victory over No. 2 Troy in the championship game of the Matt Denning Hoops Classic on Friday night at Mater Dei High.
The officials went to a running clock in the fourth quarter after the Monarchs took a 40-point lead.
"That was a special effort tonight," Monarchs coach Kevin Kiernan said. "They wanted to make a statement tonight and I think they did. They played really well tonight."
It took an awesome overall team effort to overwhelm a team of Troy's caliber. Troy has "The Big Three" --- Oregon State-bound Gabriella Hanson, Stanford-bound Briana Roberson and Denver-bound Alecia Dimas --- who appeared to be stunned during the second quarter when the Monarchs buried them.
Mater Dei's sophomore guard Katie Lou Samuelson was red hot from the outset and got the Monarchs of to a strong start with 16 of her 22 points coming in the first half.
"We were just really pumped for this game," Samuelson said. "We played really hard and really played as a team together."
The game was tight early on and it looked like it was shaping up to be the battle most people expected. Roberson stuffed Karlie Samuelson's first 3-point attempt. But Katie Lou Samuelson hit back-to-back 3-pointers to give Mater Dei an early 8-2 advantage.
Roberson's crossover move turned into a 3-point play that cut Mater Dei's lead to 11-9 with 1:19 left in the opening quarter. That was the last time the game resembled anything competitive.
Mater Dei went on a 22-0 run, and Troy didn't score again until there was 1:50 remaining.
Sophomore guard Andee Velasco hit three 3-pointers during the run and Katie Lou Samuelson attacked the basket with some athletic moves. Velasco finished with 16 points and four 3-pointers.
Mater Dei (8-0), ranked No. 3 in the state by Cal-Hi Sports and No. 6 in the nation by USA Today, is relying heavily on its 3-point shooting this season, but the Monarchs were showing all facets of their game against Troy (7-1), ranked No. 12 in the state and No. 25 in the nation.
"They realize people are going to start scouting them and playing for the 3-point shots, so we're working with them quite a bit on taking the ball to the basket and mixing up things, be diversified," Kiernan said.
Sophomore guard Cheyenne Allen had the task of guarding Hanson and she held the future Pac-12 player to eight points.
"I was just think I have to keep on her and not let her cut to the basket and get the ball," Allen said. "I just had to give it all I got, everything I had to keep her from getting the ball."
It was clear that Mater Dei's effort exceeded Kiernan's expectations.
"I have a lot of respect for Troy," Kiernan said. "I think they are a great team. We just played so well. We were really sharing the ball and playing great defense. Our half-court defense hasn't been awesome this season, but tonight it was really good.
"This could be a special group depending on if we can rebound and play defense, because I know they can shoot. It's hard to take away everybody. (Katie) Lou got us off to a great start today. She was well-rested. She sat out a couple of days (with a sore foot). I was just really impressed with how we played. I'm really proud of them."
In the Lady Highlander Classic:
La Habra 60, Thousand Oaks 53: Amy Wilbourn scored 23 points and Allyson O'Brien added 21 points to lead the Highlanders (8-1) in the championship game of their own tournament.