With its three-point shooters on target and its big men protecting the rim, Mater Dei had lots going for it in a Trinity League showdown against St. John Bosco on Tuesday night in Santa Ana.
The Monarchs led by as many as 18 in the first half, making eight threes. Some thought the Braves would offer a better showing after being routed by 21 by Mater Dei at Crypto.com Arena on Jan. 6. A change in venue did nothing to change things — until the second half.
Elzie Harrington and Brandon McCoy combined to score all but six of St. John Bosco’s points in the final 16 minutes. St. John Bosco closed to 62-60 with 2:01 left on a Harrington three. But the Braves never had an answer for Mater Dei sophomore guard Luke Barnett.
Barnett made consecutive threes to end the comeback. He finished making six threes and scoring 21 points to help Mater Dei defeat St. John Bosco 72-66. Mater Dei (25-2, 8-1 league) still needs to defeat Santa Margarita on Thursday to win an outright league title. St. John Bosco dropped to 22-5 and 7-2.
With one of St. John Bosco’s best players, Kade Bonam, still out because of a shoulder injury, the Braves were pretty much a two-man team. McCoy and Harrington scored 50 of the Braves’ 66 points. McCoy had 26 points and Harrington 24. Helping Barnett were Owen Verna and Blake Davidson with 13 points apiece for the Monarchs.
The Monarchs lost sophomore forward Brannon Martinsen to an ankle injury in the second quarter. He limped off the court and didn’t return.
Barnett continues to be an invaluable sixth man. His three last weekend at the Nike Extravaganza in the final seconds knocked off Los Alamitos. He’s instant points off the bench and if left open in three-point range, he’s close to automatic. There’s no hesitation when he releases his shot and he exudes confidence.
Mater Dei coach Gary McKnight was animated with the officials in the fourth quarter. At one point he was on the floor, causing St. John Bosco coach Matt Dunn to join him, not wanting any advantage given.
Both schools should be in the Open Division playoffs when seedings are announced Sunday. And another Trinity League team, JSerra, could join them.
JSerra 49, Santa Margarita 42: The Lions (23-4, 6-3) kept their Open Division playoff hopes alive. Aidan Fowler led a balanced attack with 12 points.
Damien 62, Rancho Cucamonga 38: Xavier Clinton made five threes and finished with 21 points and Nate Garcia added 20 points to help Damien advance to the Baseline League championship game Thursday against Etiwanda.
Harvard-Westlake 70, Bishop Alemany 33: Robert Hinton scored 14 points for Harvard-Westlake, which will play at Sherman Oaks Notre Dame on Wednesday night in a Mission League tournament semifinal.
Crespi 68, St. Francis 54: Joe Sterling scored 19 points and Peyton White 15 for the Celts, who will play at Sierra Canyon on Wednesday in the Mission League tournament semifinals.
Dominguez 50, Downey 46: Harper Mills had 15 points and 12 rebounds for Dominguez.
Louisville 79, Notre Dame Academy 24: Andrea Hurtado scored 29 points and Taylor Westbrook added 20 points to help Louisville win the Angelus League title.
Orangewood Academy 61, Brentwood 56: Coach Leslie Aragon picked up the 500th win in her career as her team took a big step toward securing an Open Division playoff berth.
Sierra Canyon 93, Sherman Oaks Notre Dame 38: Jerzy Robinson finished with 40 points and 18 rebounds for Sierra Canyon.