Mater Dei girls stood out among nation's elite


Mater Dei's girls basketball team played in the toughest bracket in the Nike Tournament of Champions last week in Chandler, Ariz.

The eight-team field featured seven nationally ranked teams and the Monarchs - ranked No. 3 in  the nation by USA Today - rose to the occasion, beating No. 21 Ossining, N.Y., 88-67, No. 1 St. Mary's of Phoenix, Ariz., 57-54, and No. 8 Riverdale Baptist of Upper Marlboro, Md., 96-74, to capture the tournament title.

"It was a big week for us, especially starting three sophomores, a junior and a senior," Monarchs coach Kevin Kiernan said. "It was an honor to compete against the best teams in the country, including No. 1 (St. Mary's). We  hope it gives us confidence moving forward into the tough Trinity League.

"Katie Lou and Karlie (Samuelson) were named co-MVP of the tournament and they played great. They are really shooting well and improving in all areas of their game. They both rebounded very well this week. Andee Velasco had a great week at point guard, competing against the quickest girls in the country. Andee was solid all week and we got great contributions from Peyton Langston, Cheyenne Allen, Alli Brown and Jayde Woods. Our bench was outstanding all week.

"We are all blending together well at this point. Everyone is doing their part and working very hard. This week kind of puts us in the national picture and that is nice for the kids."


Brea Olinda lost All-County players Keitra Wallace and Taylor Spears to graduation, so 2012-13 season was going to be a challenge, especially, because the Ladycats play one of the most challenging schedules in the county.

But Brea Olinda has point guard Anna Kim back for her senior season and she helped the Ladycats beat Timpanagos of Orem, Utah, 61-29, Sacramento, 43-38, and Hamilton of Chandler, Ariz., 48-43, en route to the John Anderson Division C title at the Nike Tournament of Champions in Chandler, Ariz. Kim had 27 points in the finals against Hamilton.

"Our message to our team going into December was that it was going to be a very difficult four weeks and that our only concern was that we get better," Brea Olinda coach Kim Cram-Torres said. "I think as coaches we've found the things we're good at and made some really important adjustments and our players are finally comfortable and settling into their new roles, gaining experience and building confidence and for us those are the only things that matter."


Orange Lutheran had a huge week with victories over Ventura, ranked No. 8 in Division 1A, and Bishop Montgomery, ranked No. 3 in Division 4AA, on the way to winning the Santa Barbara Tournament of Champions. Jessica Salottolo was named the tournament MVP and Jami Hahn made the all-tournament team.

"It's a really nice accomplishment by our girls," Lancers coach Tom Howard said. "They showed a lot of toughness and resolve, especially in the last two wins against Ventura and Bishop Montgomery.

"It was fitting for the final being a game that could have gone either way. There were times I thought that maybe it just wasn't our night but the girls continued to fight and found a way to win when we definitely weren't at our best. That showed a lot about our girls and I am very proud of them. Our team has really formed."


JSerra heads out to the Holiday Hardwood Invitational Wednesday-Saturday at Oaks Christian High of Westlake Village. The loaded 16-team field features five teams ranked in the most recent state rankings by Cal-Hi Sports with No. 1 Bishop O'Dowd of Oakland, No. 2 Long Beach Poly, No. 5 Windward of L.A., No. 6 La Jolla Country Day and No. 14 Serra of Gardena. JSerra plays Mater Dei of Chula Vista, ranked No. 5 in San Diego County, in the first round on Wednesday at 2:45 p.m. The championship game is Saturday at 6:45 p.m. ...

Canyon, Los Alamitos, Tesoro, Sonora, Beckman and Saddleback Valley Christian are competing in the ninth So Cal Holiday Prep Classic Wednesday-Saturday in San Diego. Canyon and Los Alamitos are in the TOC 2 Division with some of San Diego County's top teams, including No. 3 West Hills of Santee and No. 6 Mount Miguel of Spring Valley. The TOC 2 Division championship is Saturday at 6:30 p.m. at Westview High of San Diego. ...

Troy plays in the Naples Daily News Holiday Shootout from Wednesday-Saturday in Naples, Fla. Troy and Whitney Young of Chicago, Ill., ranked No. 5 in the nation, are on opposite sides of the championship bracket and could meet in the finals on Saturday at 6:30 p.m. ...

Brea Olinda heads up to Northern California to play in the Eastside Prep Coaches vs. Cancer Classic Thursday-Saturday at Eastside Prep of East Palo Alto. The championship game is Saturday at 7 p.m. ...

Edison and Marina have teamed up once again to share hosting duties for the Larry Doyle O.C. Championships Wednesday-Saturday. Centennial of Corona and Laguna Hills look like the top teams in the top half of the bracket and San Clemente and Orange Lutheran look like the top contenders in the lower half of the bracket. The championship game is Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at Marina High. ...

Foothill, Segerstrom, Westminster and Rosary are the top teams in the Garden Grove Tournament Wednesday-Saturday at Garden Grove High. The championship game is Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at Garden Grove High. ...

Santa Ana Valley, Santiago, Century and Rancho Alamitos are the county teams in the Cavalier Classic Wednesday-Saturday at Santiago High. The championship game is Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at Santiago High. ...

Huntington Beach and Irvine are among the top contenders in the Costa Mesa Winter Classic Wednesday-Saturday at Costa Mesa High. The championship game is Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at Costa Mesa High. ...

Hit me up on Twitter @LosOCVarsity with final scores, highlights and leading scorers each night following your game to make sure your team gets in the girls basketball roundup.

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