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Johnson, Mater Dei overpower St. John Bosco
SANTA ANA – Kevin Durant. John Wall. Stanley Johnson?
St. John Bosco of Bellflower coach Derrick Taylor has coached against each of them and other NBA stars and said none of them trumps the Mater Dei forward at the high school level.
"He's up there with Kyrie Irving," Taylor said. "They're the only guys I ever coached against that we were just helpless (against). We did not have an answer for Stanley Johnson.
"He looked like an NBA player to my guys. And my guys are high-end players. He's another level above."
So was top-ranked Mater Dei on Wednesday night, claiming its 25th consecutive league title with an 82-71 victory over St. John Bosco at Mater Dei High.
Johnson had 31 points, 12 rebounds, three steals, a block and an assist. He had 23 points and nine rebounds in the first half alone as the Monarchs built a 48-26 lead. Johnson drained buzzer-beating 3-pointers at the end of the first and second quarters.
It was just two of several 3-pointers Johnson made from NBA range.
"I felt like I was in my range so I let it fly," said Johnson, who went 5 of 8 from beyond the arc. "No second guesses. I felt it early and kept going to it."
Mater Dei (22-1, 8-0 Trinity League), ranked No. 1 in CIF-SS Division 1AA, jumped out to a 12-2 lead behind the shooting of Johnson and forward Mario Soto. The Braves (17-5, 6-2), ranked No. 1 in Division 3A, sliced their deficit to seven in the second quarter before the Monarchs closed out the half with a 17-2 run. Mater Dei's lead ballooned to 25 points in the third quarter.
Johnson tried for a buzzer-beating trifecta, attempting a half-court heave at the end of the third quarter, only to see it fall into the arms of Jayce Johnson, who beat the horn with a layup. Guard Elijah Brown scored 25 points, making all 11 of his free throws. He, along with guards Jordan Strawberry and Chris Nealey, were also key in holding Braves guard Isaac Hamilton to a season-low 7 points.
"We had a lot to prove here," Brown said. "This was a statement game for us. We wanted to reassure everyone we're the best team in the league."
Bosco's high-scoring offense was largely reduced to the exploits of forward Daniel Hamilton (27 points) and guard Tyler Dorsey (23 points).
"They're better," Taylor said. "Anyway you want to size it, they're better. They do all the little things that we don't do."
After Johnson’s 25-point, 21-rebound performance in the first meeting between the two schools, Mater Dei coach Gary McKnight intimated the 6-7 Johnson might be the best player in Mater Dei history. He reaffirmed that statement after Johnson’s latest heroics.
“He could very well be,” McKnight said. “After his freshman and sophomore year, he’s the best player around. And he's a junior. I’ll keep him for another year.”
Mater Dei, which will be the host for the two-day Nike Extravaganza this weekend, will face Eisenhower of Rialto on Friday and Westchester of Los Angeles on Saturday. Bosco will face Long Beach Poly on Saturday.
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