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ROD VEAL, THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
Mater Dei's Gary Franklin charges up the court with the ball against Bishop Gorman.

Mater Dei challenged but beats Bishop Gorman

The Monarchs win the showdown of national powers in the Nike Extravaganza.

OCVARSITY.COM

SANTA ANA - The Mater Dei boys basketball team survived one of its greatest challenges this season Saturday night against Bishop Gorman of Nevada.

With four players in double digits, led by Tyler Lamb's 26 points, the Monarchs (22-1) defeated the visiting Gaels 82-76 in the Nike Extravaganza.

Keala King scored 21, Gary Franklin had 17 and Max Hooper added 14 for the Monarchs.

"We knew they were going to give us a run for our money," King said. "We knew they were going to come out and play us as hard as they can.

"We came in here and tried to demonstrate to everybody that we're a great team also."

The Gaels are ranked third on the West Coast by USA Today and 12th in the nation. Mater Dei is second and 11th, according to the same poll.

The Gaels (23-2) entered the game on a 23-game winning streak.

"That was a game between two very good high school teams," Mater Dei coach Gary McKnight said.

The Monarchs have only been in two close games since Dec. 12 (a 62-59 loss to Gonzaga of Washington and a 79-71 victory over DeMatha Jan. 18).

Their average margin of victory in their eight Trinity League games is 44.8 points. So a close game and, more importantly, a close victory suits McKnight just fine.

"Right now, in league play, the games haven't been too close," McKnight said. "I think we really needed this for the playoffs and it was very important. Plus, if we go into the playoffs 24-1, that opens up doors."

Mater Dei led 74-66 in the fourth quarter, but the Gaels wouldn't go away and with 19.3 seconds left, the score narrowed to 80-76.

Franklin finally put the game away for the Monarchs with a pair of free throws.

"They didn't give up," McKnight said. "That team is pretty tenacious. They keep coming after you."

Mater Dei led 34-29 at halftime and opened an 11-point lead in the third quarter, thanks to the outside shooting of Hooper. Hooper connected on three 3-pointers in the quarter.

"I found a real good rhythm," Hooper said. "And my teammates did a good job getting me the ball."

The Gaels wouldn't go away and whittled the Monarchs' lead to 65-63 with 4:37 left in the game, but couldn't get any closer.

Bishop Gorman sophomore forward Shabazz Muhammad, who is rated as one of the top recruits in the Class of 2012, led the Gaels with 29 points.

Anson Winder (BYU) scored 21 points.

The Monarchs return to league play Tuesday at Santa Margarita.


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