Mater Dei's Elijah Brown takes the ball past Rancho Verde's Kendall Goslee on his way to the hoop during Friday's game.
See more photos from this game in the OCVarsity Hot Shots slideshow.

Mater Dei grinds out victory over Rancho Verde


SANTA ANA – While Mater Dei was in control throughout its Division 1AA quarterfinal against visiting Rancho Verde of Moreno Valley on Friday, the Monarchs weren't able to put the game away until the final few minutes.

But even without their best effort the Monarchs easily defeated the Mustangs, 56-40, at Mater Dei High School.

The Monarchs (29-1) will play host to Inglewood in a semifinal on Tuesday.

Both teams employed a half-court offense virtually the entire game, accounting for the low score.

OCVarsity Hot Shots: Friday's basketball games

Stanley Johnson, the Monarchs' best player and arguably the best in the county, shot 50 percent for 22 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and had four assists.

"He's so graceful for a big man," Mater Dei Coach Gary McKnight said.

After Johnson's buzzer beating 3-pointer from half court put Mater Dei ahead, 15-12, after the first quarter, the Monarchs went on a 12-0 run to start the second.

Elijah Brown's 3-pointer put Mater Dei up by eight, then Jordan Strawberry's reverse layup off his own steal upped the lead to 10.

Johnson then grabbed a rebound and drove the length of the court for a dunk to help lift Mater Dei to a 32-14 lead.

The Monarchs led by 20 after the third but then started getting sloppy.

Andrew Bournes and Tre Nottingham opened the fourth with back-to-back 3-pointers for the Mustangs (23-6), who closed to 11 behind with 3:15 left.

Johnson then hit a pair of free throws and a 3-pointer to put the contest out of reach.

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