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ROD VEAL, ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
Mater Dei coach Kevin Kiernan watches as one of his players shoots a free throw during the CIF-SS Division 1AA semifinal Wednesday at Etiwanda High.

OT stunner: Mater Dei's CIF reign comes to end

OCVARSITY.COM

ETIWANDA – Mater Dei’s undefeated record, its various No. 1 rankings and the program’s history didn’t seem to matter to the Etiwanda girls basketball team on Wednesday night. 

In a game that was exciting from start to finish, Etiwanda upset the Monarchs in overtime, 73-72, in the CIF-SS Division 1AA semifinals. The defeat marked Mater Dei’s first of the season and ended its string of consecutive CIF-SS titles at four.

Etiwanda (28-2) advances to the finals to play Santiago of Corona on Friday night.

“It was a great high school game,” Mater Dei coach Kevin Kiernan said. “I give a lot of credit to Etiwanda. They played really well. We got our lead and we turned the ball over quite a bit in the last quarter and a half. Etiwanda did a great job.”

Mater Dei (28-1) had the ball down two points with 27.3 seconds left in the extra session. Karlie and Katie Lou Samuelson each missed 3-pointers before Etiwanda pulled down the rebound. But after a traveling call, the Monarchs got another chance.

A foul sent Katie Lou to the free throw line with a chance to tie the game. However, her first free throw bounced off the rim. After she sunk the second, Etiwanda was able to dribble around and run out the clock, prompting its student section to storm the court.

“It’s just so exhilarating,” said Etiwanda’s Amy Okonkwo, who scored a game-high 28 points, including a big 3-pointer in overtime. “I knew we could do this and it just took hard work and team work and I’m just so happy that we won.”

Mater Dei, which led by 12 midway through the third quarter, had to battle back from a five-point deficit with just more than a minute left in regulation to send the game to overtime.

The Monarchs led just once in the extra session, 69-67 with less than three minutes left, before Etiwanda scored six consecutive points.

Karlie Samuelson’s 24 points paced the Monarchs, while her younger sister Katie Lou added 20. Jayde Woods chipped in 13. 

The season is not over for Mater Dei, which entered Tuesday ranked No. 1 in the nation by USA Today, as the Monarchs now begin to prepare for the state playoffs. Nonetheless, it was a tough loss for a team that won its first three playoff games by a combined score of 223-95.

“Any loss is disappointing,” Kiernan said. “We’ll just have to regroup. We’ll be in the state tournament so we’ll just have to regroup and continue on next week.”

Contact the writer: jkaplan@ocregister.com


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