Boys' basketball: Can Inglewood pull another upset?
The highly-anticipated dream matchup between Mater Dei and Long Beach Poly is one game away... but not if Inglewood and Etiwanda have anything to say about it.
Those two teams will be heavy underdogs in tonight's CIF Southern Section Division 1AA semifinals, especially Inglewood, which will need to play its best game of the season to dethrone Mater Dei, the top team in California and fourth-best in Freeman's national prep rankings.
Mater Dei is pursuing its third section title in four years and its third consecutive state championship. The Monarchs (29-1) have won nine straight games since suffering their only loss to Lakewood (Ohio) St. Edward over one month ago. Mater Dei averages nearly 73 points per game behind junior forward Stanley Johnson (18.6 ppg) and senior guard Elijah Brown (17.4 ppg).
Inglewood is also a reigning champion, having captured the Southern Section 2AA crown last season after losing the 3A final the previous year. The 12th-seeded Sentinels (19-9) should be confident after pulling off back-to-back upsets of fifth-seeded Rancho Cucamonga and fourth-seeded Mission Viejo. They have reeled off seven wins in a row since a 72-68 loss January 28 at league rival Santa Monica.
It will be important for Inglewood to get off to a fast start. The Sentinels trailed Mission Viejo by 14 points in the third quarter before holding on for a 64-61 win when the Diablos missed a three-pointer at the buzzer. However, that was a home game for Inglewood while tonight's contest will be at Mater Dei's Muruello Athletic Center.
In the other semifinal, sixth-seeded Etiwanda will try to halt a 10-game winning streak by the second-seeded Jackrabbits. Both games are about 30 minutes from tip-off.
-- Steve Galluzzo