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Mater Dei weapons too much for Orange Lutheran
SANTA ANA – Mater Dei had Johnson and Johnson. Orange Lutheran didn't have Gabe York.
Those are just a few reasons why the top-ranked Monarchs were head and shoulders better than the No. 3 Lancers in a 65-51 Trinity League boys basketball victory Wednesday night at Mater Dei High.
Monarchs forward Xavier Johnson had 27 points and 10 rebounds, and forward Stanley Johnson had 17 points, six rebounds and four steals.
"They're a pretty good 1-2 punch," Mater Dei coach Gary McKnight said. "Katin makes the third punch."
That's guard Katin Reinhardt, who went just 2 of 10 from the field but made a 3-pointer and served up an alley-oop to Xavier Johnson midway through the fourth quarter to help seal the victory.
"You're picking your poison," Orange Lutheran coach Chris Nordstrom said. "We asked our bigs to go mano y mano with these guys. Maybe that wasn't a great choice. You can't help very much because of Katin."
The Lancers (12-3, 2-1) also needed help on offense. With York, an All-County guard, still out (appendectomy), they turned to 6-6 junior guard Payton Banks. He scored 13 points by early in the second quarter as Orange Lutheran led, 16-15. But he tired and the offense stalled, allowing Mater Dei (14-2, 2-0) to close the half on a 10-2 run.
"He got us off to a really good start," Nordstrom said. "He was in rhythm early. But he got a little fatigued on the bigger court. The ball's in his hands, he's got to guard Xavier a lot, he's got to cover for Gabe.
"We asked him to do a lot."
Banks finished with a game-high 30 points and six rebounds but also committed seven of the Lancers' 19 turnovers. Mater Dei's 13 offensive rebounds were equally decisive in the showdown between maybe the two best teams in the county.
York is expected to be back in time for the teams' second meeting, Feb. 1 at Orange Lutheran.
A year ago Orange Lutheran handed Mater Dei its first county loss since 2005. McKnight said a bigger motivating factor coming into Wednesday was avenging an overtime loss from this past weekend in West Virginia to Gill St. Bernard’s of New Jersey.
“We didn’t play as hard Saturday when we lost,” McKnight said. “I was real encouraged by how hard the kids played (Wednesday).”
It made the Monarchs even harder to beat.
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