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Boys' basketball: Mater Dei shows ability in scrimmage performance

November 21, 2012 |  5:06 pm

Gary McKnight, the winningest basketball coach in state history, has some new helpers this season at Santa Ana Mater Dei. His son, Clay, has joined him as an assistant coach. So has former NBA player Michael Cage, whose son, Michael Jr., is a freshman at Mater Dei. And former Santa Margarita Coach Jerry DeBusk is serving as a scout.

As for the players, they're going to do just fine based on their performance on Wednesday during a scrimmage at home against Encino Crespi in which they dominated. While most people focus on Long Beach Poly and Bellflower St. John Bosco as contenders for No. 1 status in Southern California, don't count out the Monarchs.

First, 6-foot-7 junior Stanley Johnson is one of the most versatile players in the Southland. He can pull down a rebound, then dribble the length of the court and finish with a dunk. He also makes three-pointers look easy and can muscle his way inside when needed.

Senior Elijah Brown has improved his shooting ability. His father, former Lakers coach Mike Brown, looked on as Brown scored 18 points and made four three-pointers. Andrew Tisdale had 24 points and Mario Soto had  17 points. Both are solid players. Add 6-9 Cage Jr., who didn't play on Wednesday, and 6-9 freshman Jayce Johnson, and it's clear the Monarchs won't be in rebuilding mode after winning last season's state Division I title.

For Crespi, Virginia-bound point guard London Perrantes made five three-pointers and had 26 points, but the Celts were overwhelmed on defense. They'll get better and be competitive in the tough Mission League.

-- Eric Sondheimer

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