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Boys' basketball: Mater Dei advances to 1AA final

_2262867Mater Dei started cold, but by the end of the game the Monarchs were white hot from long range and that made the difference in a 65-48 victory over Inglewood that moved them into their second straight Southern Section Division 1AA championship game.

The top-seeded Monarchs (30-1) will meet sixth-seeded Etiwanda (26-2) in the final on Saturday night at the Anaheim Convention Center. The Eagles stunned second-seeded Long Beach Poly, 59-55, in overtime in tonight's other semifinal.  

Mater Dei fell behind by 10 points early in the second quarter, but rebounded to take a 27-23 halftime lead on back-to-back three pointers by Stanley Johnson and guard James McGee. The Monarchs made nine three-pointers--six of them by McGee--and Johnson had 13 of his 27 points in the third quarter. He also grabbed 16 rebounds. 

"Inglewood is a good defensive team, they were contesting shots and our shooting was off early in the game," McGee said. "Once we started moving the ball better and improved our spacing, we started to take control."

McGee's three-pointer from the corner gave Mater Dei a 46-36 lead with 40 seconds left in the third quarter and Inglewood never threatened in the final eight minutes. Randy Onwuasor led the Sentinels (19-10) with 16 points.

"After I made the first two [three-pointers] I was feeling it and my teammates looked for me more," McGee said. "I couldn't have made those shots without them getting me the ball."  

Mater Dei edged Poly 63-59 in the Division 1AA final last season and the teams seemed destined for a rematch until Etiwanda upset the applecart with its road triumph. Don't expect Mater Dei to take the Eagles lightly, however.

"We saw Etiwanda play at the Nike Extravaganza," McGee said. "They have great size and they're very athletic. We have the mentality that we can lose any game and that keeps us focused and hungry. We have to come out ready to play." 

-- Steve Galluzzo

Photo: Mater Dei's Stanley Johnson (left) is guarded by Inglewood's Randy Onwuasor in Tuesday's semifinal. Johnson had 27 points in the Monarchs' 65-49 win. Credit: Steve Galluzzo / For The Times  

 
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