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McGee helps put Mater Dei in 1AA title game
SANTA ANA – Stanley Johnson was doing his part, as usual. But Mater Dei's, and Orange County's, best player needed some help.And help arrived from an unlikely source.
James McGee, averaging five points a game, made six 3-pointers to account for his career-high 18 points and Mater Dei defeated Inglewood, 65-48, in a CIF-SS Division 1AA semifinal Tuesday at Mater Dei High.
The Monarchs (30-1) will play Etiwanda (26-2) in the 1AA title game Saturday at 8:30 p.m. at Anaheim Convention Center.
Mater Dei won the 1AA title last year, the school's 21st section championship in boys basketball. Mater Dei defeated Etiwanda in the 2009-10 1AA championship game.
Etiwanda advanced by beating Long Beach Poly in overtime, 59-55, on Tuesday.
Inglewood (18-10) had an 18-8 lead early in the second quarter. Mater Dei switched to a 3-2 zone defense, and McGee changed into a scoring leader. He made two 3-pointers in the second quarter, in which the Monarchs outscored the Sentinels, 19-9, and Mater Dei had a 27-23 lead at halftime.
Mater Dei's Elijah Brown pumped in two 3-pointers to open the third quarter, and McGee then made three in a row from the same corner. Mater Dei had a 46-36 lead going into the final quarter. The Monarchs pushed the lead to 22 points in the fourth quarter to easily win a game that was difficult at the start.
"In the beginning, I think we were playing a little scared," said Mater Dei senior point guard Jordan Strawberry. "But we persevered and won the game."
Strawberry said the Monarchs were confident that McGee could do what he did.
"Earlier in the playoffs, he hit five 3s," said Strawberry, recalling McGee's five 3-pointers in the Monarchs' first-round victory over Roosevelt of Eastvale. "We've gained confidence in him hitting shots."
McGee was happy to be so important in the victory.
"CIF semifinals, the biggest stage," said McGee, a 6-foot-2 senior. "Teammates found me and I was able to knock them down."
Johnson scored 27 points with 16 rebounds. He was 12 for 18 at the free-throw line. Mater Dei freshman MJ Cage had eight rebounds.
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