Both Mater Dei teams — from Santa Ana and Chula Vista — plus McClatchy of Sacramento and Peninsula of Rolling Hills Estates earn tourney crowns.
FOR COVERAGE OF MATER DEI HEAD COACH KEVIN KIERNAN WINNING STATE RECORD 762ND GAME, CLICK HERE.
Mater Dei of Santa Ana’s winning streak against Trinity League girls basketball rival Rosary Academy of Fullerton survived Saturday in the Premier Division final of the 16th annual So Cal Holiday Prep Classic, thanks in large part to another significant run by the Monarchs.
Mater Dei scored 14 unanswered points during a three-minute stretch in the third quarter to erase a three-point deficit and the Royals never got closer than six the rest of the way, as the Monarchs captured the championship in San Diego for the first time since 2008 with a 69-58 victory at Del Norte High.
It marked the 26th consecutive victory for Mater Dei (18-2) against Rosary (14-4), the CIF Division III state champion from two years ago. The last time the Royals prevailed in the rivalry was Jan. 19, 2006.
Mater Dei sophomore Brooke Demetre overcame illness to contribute 15 points and five rebounds, earning tournament most valuable player honors. Senior Cailyn Crocker, a Cal signee, added 22 points and eight assists, with sophomore Alyssa Frescas scoring six points to both earn all-tournament honors for the Monarchs, No. 8 in the latest Cal-Hi Sports state rankings.
“The great thing about this team is that we’re not really thinking about who is scoring or who is doing it, as long as somebody does it, then we’re excited,” Crocker said. “It was back to back to back, and it was all different people, so when that happens, it’s hard to guard us. We’re just striving to get 32 minutes of good basketball from everybody and I think (Saturday) and this whole week was a step in the right direction.”
For nearly 20 minutes, it looked as if Rosary might finally end its drought against Mater Dei, holding a 39-36 advantage with 4:30 remaining in the third quarter.
But even though the Monarchs were playing their 20th game in 40 days and despite Demetre battling fatigue, they relied on a half-court trapping defense combined with the playmaking ability of Crocker and tough inside play from sophomore Meaali’i Amosa – who had 14 points and nine rebounds – to finally shift the momentum in their favor, resulting in a 12-point lead entering the final quarter.
“It shows a lot that we can keep pushing and we’re not going to give up, so it makes me really happy,” Demetre said. “We haven’t been able to finish close games like that, so it really showed that we could do what we put our minds to and push through.”
All-tournament selections Asia Avinger and Katie Goostrey sparked a surge by Rosary to open the fourth, cutting the deficit in half in the first three minutes, but Amosa, Crocker and Demetre helped Mater Dei remain strong down the stretch by combining to score all 14 of the team’s points in the final quarter.
Avinger finished with 14 points and Goostrey added nine points for Rosary, which relied on eight 3-pointers to remain within striking distance.
“We’re just going to have to build off this and we know our defense has to get a lot better,” Avinger said. “They got a lot of easy buckets and we just need to get back and talk and communicate more on defense. We just need time to get together and play as a team, because they’ve been together for a long time and our team is kind of new together and we have new pieces, so we just need more time.”
The teams will square off again Jan. 10 at Mater Dei in their only league matchup, since Trinity officials decided to reduce the schedule to only one round this year in an effort to allow teams to schedule more tournament and nonleague games. Mater Dei boasts an 85-game league winning streak and is seeking a 12th straight championship, but first faces St. Joseph Notre Dame of Alameda (9-2) in a nonleague matchup Jan. 5 as part of its annual Matt Denning Nike Hoops Classic.
More So Cal Holiday Prep Classic Title Games
Mater Dei Catholic (Chula Vista) 86,
Rolling Hills Prep (Rolling Hills Estates) 74
In a game that featured a combined 20 3-pointers and five players scoring at least 20 points, Mater Dei Catholic (9-5) held off a late Rolling Hills Prep rally to win a division title at the tournament for the first time. Senior Chloe Webb earned division MVP honors with 25 points, seven rebounds and four steals, with all-tournament honoree Marissa Sanchez also scoring 25 points and Hailey Dominguez contributing 14 points for Mater Dei Catholic, which only led 67-64 with five minutes remaining. Sophomore Clarice Akunwafo received all-tournament honors after recording 25 points and 13 rebounds for Rolling Hills Prep (12-3), the reigning Division IV state champions and a state finalist in Division V before that. Naya Stroud added 22 points, eight rebounds and five assists, with freshman Tatum Tamashiro scoring 20 points for the Huskies.
NCAA Silver Division:
McClatchy (Sacramento) 58,
JSerra (San Juan Capistrano) 43
A first-quarter altercation resulted in ejections to both McClatchy’s Nia Lowery and JSerra’s Jaya Shelby. But it was the next nine minutes when McClatchy landed the knockout punch, turning a six-point advantage at the time of the incident into a 40-15 halftime lead. Kamryn Hall, a West Point commit, earned division MVP honors, leading state No. 17 McClatchy (12-2) with 16 points, seven rebounds and five steals, with Samaya Beatty adding 13 points. Alex Iemsisanith had seven points to earn all-tournament honors for JSerra (13-5), which also received 10 points from Hosanna Walker.
NCAA Blue Division:
Peninsula (Rolling Hills Estates) 51,
Oak Ridge (El Dorado Hills) 49
Kristin Hanaoka earned division MVP honors for Peninsula (10-8), finishing with 21 points in the victory over Oak Ridge (11-5). Samantha Inana and Jami Galdones added eight points apiece for Peninsula, which has won five in a row overall. Freshman Teagan Brown led Oak Ridge with 24 points and Megan McConnell added nine points.
Erik Boal has covered high school sports in California for 25 years, formerly serving as editor at the Glendale News-Press and Los Angeles Daily News. He is currently the editor for DyeStat.com and RunnerSpace.com, which focus on track and field, cross country and road racing, but has been a regular attendee at the So Cal Holiday Prep Classic since it began in 2003.