Boys' basketball: Johnson's effort saves Mater Dei
It's safe to say that Mater Dei would not have emerged victorious in Thursday night's game against Loyola without the stellar individual effort of junior Xavier Johnson, who poured in 30 points and accounted for nearly half of the Monarchs' offense in the first half. Mater Dei went on to win 72-70 and advance to the semifinals of the Southern California Regional playoffs.
Mater Dei rallied from a 57-48 deficit at the start of the fourth quarter and every time the Monarchs needed a basket, Johnson called for the ball and when he got it he usually scored. His slam dunk in traffic pulled Mater Dei within 57-54 with 6:47 left that fired up the home crowd and turned the momentum in his team's favor.
To its credit, Loyola didn't back down and freshman Parker Jackson-Cartwright played with the poise of a senior, knocking down a three-pointer with 9.6 seconds left that cut the Cubs' deficit to 71-70. His last-second three-pointer over Mater Dei's David Brown hit the rim and bounced back as time expired.
The referees couldn't swallow their whistles in the final two minutes and it meant Loyola had to persevere without several of its best players on the floor at the end of the game. It all started when Loyola's Julian Harrell was whistled for his fifth foul on a charge with 1:47 left and the game tied 67-67.
On Loyola's next possession Joe Stein was called for an offensive foul, his fifth, with 1:08 remaining and the Cubs trailing 69-67. On Mater Dei's ensuing possession Brown was called for a five-second violation with 52 seconds left, but Loyola turned the ball over when Justin Childress was called for an offensive foul with 38.8 seconds left.
Mater Dei intended to run the clock down as far as it could, but Brown dribbled across midcourt and was called for pushing off with his left arm with 34.0 seconds left. After Jackson-Cartwright made a three-pointer to trim the Monarchs' lead to one point, Childress intentionally fouled Katin Reinhardt with 8.7 seconds left, becoming the third Cubs player to foul out.
-- Steve Galluzzo