Orange Lutheran's Matt Ledbetter drives to the basket around Mater Dei's David Wear in the first quarter.<br> (<a href="">Click here to read the story.</a>)

Mater Dei tunes up against Orange Lutheran

Mater Dei tunes up against Orange Lutheran
The top-ranked Monarchs get ready for the postseason by blowing out the Lancers.

Forget about Mater Dei looking ahead to the playoffs.

The Monarchs came out Thursday night like they were in the biggest game of the year, jumping to a huge lead and going on to beat Orange Lutheran, 97-71, in a Trinity League game at Orange Lutheran that was the final game of the regular season for both.

Mater Dei, ranked No. 1 in Orange County, California and the United States of America, won its 20th consecutive league championship. The Monarchs will take a 26-0 record into the CIF-Southern Section playoffs that begin Wednesday.

Playoff brackets, seedings and first-round pairings will be released Sunday and will be available at that afternoon.

Orange Lutheran finished the regular season 23-5. Two of the Lancers' losses were to Mater Dei.

Mater Dei goes into Division I-AA in the CIF-SS enrollment-based playoffs, and Lutheran goes into Division IV-A. Like Mater Dei, Lutheran is ranked No. 1 in its division.

Following school tradition, Lutheran opened with an all-senior starting lineup on Senior Night, although three of its best players are underclassmen. Mater Dei burst to a 12-0 lead in the first three minutes, but the determination and skill with which they played might have been too much for any starting five Lutheran — or perhaps any other high school team — would have put on the floor.

"Those first five or six minutes," Mater Dei forward Travis Wear said, "we played out of our minds."

Wear especially seemed to be in higher state of consciousness. He made his first seven shots of the game and had 17 points in the first quarter. Wear, a 6-foot-10 senior who, along with teammate and twin David, signed with North Carolina, finished with a career-high 34 points.

Most of his points came from layups, thanks to excellent passing by David Wear, Tyler Lamb and Gary Franklin. Franklin and David Wear had six assists apiece, and Lamb had five.

"My brother kept finding me open," Travis said. "Everybody kept finding me."

Mater Dei coach Gary McKnight said, "We came out fired up and ready to go."

Mater Dei had a 28-6 lead at the end of the first quarter, and a 57-21 lead at halftime. Hot-shooting by Lutheran junior Tyler Funk and a segment of sloppy play by Mater Dei enabled the Lancers to outscore the Monarchs, 25-13, in the third quarter to trim Mater Dei's lead to 24. But the Monarchs opened the fourth quarter with a 13-2 run to further distance themselves from the competition.

Mater Dei won its 10 league games by an average margin of 36 points.

Gabe York, a freshman guard, led Orange Lutheran with 18 points. Funk finished with 14.

In the Sea View League:

Foothill 63, No. 4 El Toro 55:Myles Carillo scored 14 points to lead the host Knights (17-9, 8-2). Foothill, El Toro and Huntington Beach tied for the league championship. Even though the three teams go to the playoffs in different enrollment-based divisions, they must, according to Sea View League coordinator Vince Brown, Foothill's athletic director, produce a way to designate the three teams as its Nos, 1, 2 and 3 playoff representatives.

In the South Coast League:

Capistrano Valley 53, Aliso Niguel 35:The host Cougars (16-10, 5-5) finished third, the league's final guaranteed playoff berth, as Casey James scored 22 points.

No. 3 Tesoro 52, Mission Viejo 49:Chris Manresa's 20 points led the host Titans (22-4, 9-1), who shared the league championship with Dana Hills.

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