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MIGUEL VASCONCELLOS, THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
Brea Olinda's Kendall Rodriguez, left, and Kelsey Harris celebrate on the court after beating Mater Dei, 44-38, in Saturday's CIF Division II regional championship game at Pauley Pavilion.<br><a href=" http://www.ocvarsity.com/ocvarsity/todaysregister/article_2335761.php"><b>READ THE STORY.</b></a>

Brea Olinda can't be stopped by Mater Dei (video)

Brea Olinda can't be stopped by Mater Dei (video)

The Orange County Register
:
The Ladycats show who reigns in O.C. by winning, 44-38, and advancing to the state finals.

LOS ANGELES - Brea Olinda has had the most dominant girls basketball program in the county since the 1980s, and the Ladycats weren't ready to make room for Mater Dei's talented young squad.

Brea Olinda handed Mater Dei its only loss of the season, beating the Monarchs, 44-38, in the CIF Southern California Division II Regionals finals on Saturday afternoon at Pauley Pavilion.

"It's like the old dog walking around with ticks and fleas and the collar is all ragged and it still has a little bit of fight in him," said Brea Olinda coach Jeff Sink, whose team earned its 11th trip to the state championship game.

"Yes, we do graduate eight seniors, but I'm carrying half the school on the roster. We have 18 kids on the roster. We have 10 underclassmen coming back, so I'm hoping the old dog will still be scratching next year, too."

Brea Olinda, which has won 16 CIF-SS titles and eight state championships, plays Carondelet of Concord, a 60-50 winner over Oak Ridge of El Dorado Hills, for the Division II state title on Friday at 6 p.m. at Arco Arena in Sacramento.

The Brea Olinda-Mater Dei game had been hyped all season. Mater Dei (32-1) came into the game ranked No. 1 in the county, No. 1 in the state by CalHiSports.com and No. 2 in the nation by ESPN RISE. Brea Olinda (32-2) was ranked No. 2 in the county, No. 3 in the state and No. 30 in the nation. There was more than just county supremacy on the line.

"I just couldn't wait until this game, for this game to happen," said Brea Olinda point guard Jonae Ervin, who finished with a game-high 18 points. "This is the game to prove we are the better team, and we proved it."

Ervin, the smallest player on the court at 5-2, came through with the biggest game as she has in all big games this season. She scored the final 14 points in the fourth quarter for Brea Olinda. Whenever the Monarchs threatened, Ervin was there to score a floater in the lane or connect on a pull-up jumper.

Ervin, Kelsey Harris and Kendall Rodriguez played on the 2007 team that reached the Division II state title game and their steady influence showed against the Monarchs. Harris had 12 points and knocked down some clutch shots in the first half, while Rodriguez did all the little things to finish with two points, eight rebounds, five assists and five steals.

"I think just because we have been looking forward to this game all year that we were so ready to play," Rodriguez said. "Our upperclassmen pumped up our underclassmen. We assured all the underclassmen, 'It's OK, you'll do fine. If you don't hit your shot, you're good. Just play.' I think that helps being mature."

Mater Dei looked flustered and nervous from the opening tip. The Monarchs went nearly 10 minutes with only 1 point scored in the first half. They finished with 29 turnovers. Mater Dei's sophomore sensation Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, who was named the Gatorade state player of the year on Thursday, was limited to 10 points.

"Sometimes you have to get your heart broken to win one of these," said second-year Mater Dei coach Kevin Kiernan, who led Troy to three state titles.

Contact the writer: carias@ocregister.com


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