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Mater Dei earns rematch with Etiwanda
SANTA ANA – Mater Dei got what it wanted.
The Monarchs will have a rematch against Etiwanda. They made it so Tuesday with an 83-63 victory over Long Beach Poly in a CIF Southern California Regionals Open Division semifinal at Mater Dei High.
Mater Dei (32-2) will play Etiwanda (29-3) in the Regionals Open Division championship game Saturday at 8 p.m. at Citizens Business Bank in Ontario. Etiwanda defeated Mater Dei, 54-51, in the CIF-Southern Section Division 1AA championship game on March 2 at Anaheim Convention Center.
It will be the fourth consecutive regionals final for Mater Dei, which went on to win state championships the past two years.
The Monarchs' Elijah Brown equaled his season high Tuesday with 33 points. Brown, a senior who committed to Butler and is the son of former Lakers coach Mike Brown, made 9 of 18 shots and also had team highs of 11 rebounds and four assists.
"He took good shots," Mater Dei coach Gary McKnight said. "I think he took only one bad shot. Sometimes Elijah puts too much pressure on himself, but this time he let the game come to him."
The game came to him early. Brown scored eight points in the first quarter, including a buzzer-beating 3-pointer that banked in as Brown hit the floor after some body contact. His scoring was equally distributed – after the eight first-quarter points, Brown scored eight in the second quarter, eight in the third quarter and nine in the fourth.
"That's the best game I've seen him play," said Mater Dei senior point guard Jordan Strawberry. "He's been struggling a little bit lately, so he needed this to get going again."
Mater Dei junior Stanley Johnson scored 21 points with six rebounds. Strawberry scored 10.
Roschon Prince scored 25 points for Long Beach Poly (28-4) before fouling out early in the fourth quarter. Poly lost to Etiwanda in overtime in the CIF-SS 1AA semifinals.
Mater Dei had a 13-point lead at halftime. The Jackrabbits pulled within six points in the third quarter. Brown coaxed Poly's Chris Sullivan to foul him on what would not have been a good 3-point shot attempt in the final second of the third quarter, sending Brown to the line where he made the three free throws to give the Monarchs a 10-point lead going into the fourth.
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