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THE PREPS : Mater Dei Wastes No Time in Season Opener

December 02, 1987|TOM HAMILTON | Times Staff Writer

Judging by its performance in the opening round of the Costa Mesa-Newport Harbor basketball tournament, it's quite likely that the only significant loss at Mater Dei High School this season will be around Coach Gary McKnight's waist.

The once rotund McKnight has lost 52 pounds in the past three months. On Tuesday night, he let his players "eat up" host Newport Harbor, 58-29, in the season opener for both.

The Monarchs used a stifling man-to-man defense to open an 18-0 lead and were never threatened. Newport Harbor missed its first 14 shots before Tyler Koon scored on a follow shot with 3:54 remaining in the first half.

McKnight has certainly had more talented teams in the past five seasons, but this year's edition plays hard, rebounds well and plays a tight defense. The methods may be a little different, but the results were the same for Orange County's best basketball program.

"I liked our intensity for the first quarter and a half," McKnight said. "We still have a long ways to go."

Mike Hopkins, who earlier signed with Syracuse University, led all scorers with 17 points despite missing six free throws. Char Ruppel added 10 points and 10 rebounds, and Estancia transfer Matt Allen also added 10 points.

Newport Harbor was shut out in the first quarter when it missed seven shots and committed seven turnovers.

In other first-round games:

La Quinta 73, Glenn 43: Arri Buford scored 23 points and Kenny Bennett 15 to lead the Aztecs. Buford also had 10 rebounds and Bennett had 6 assists.

La Quinta was playing without two starters, Scott Campbell and Jim Brannan, who sat out the game for disciplinary reasons.

The Aztecs' junior varsity team was also successful, defeating San Marcos of San Diego, 77-70, in first-round play.

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