Mater Dei High School's boys' basketball team got back on its customary winning track Wednesday night at Los Alamitos, beating the Griffins, 78-58, in a nonleague game.
It wasn't too soon for Coach Gary McKnight, who has had to deal with the unusual experience of losing twice in recent days. Before Mater Dei's two losses at the Beverly Hills tournament last week, McKnight had only suffered that unpleasant sensation seven times in five years with the Monarchs.
"Tonight we were a little bit more up," McKnight said. "I hope they realize they can't just show up and expect to win. But we've got to play a lot better than this to even compete back east."
Tonight, the Monarchs leave for the first of two back-to-back trips, Saturday playing Marion of Ohio in Cincinnati. They leave Christmas day to play in the Seagull Classic in Atlantic City, N.J.
McKnight was pleased that Mater Dei, now 7-2, was able to win despite limited play by forward Kevin Rembert, the only Monarch in double figures in Saturday's loss to Palisades. For the first time this year, Rembert did not start, entering with 49 seconds remaining in the first quarter. He didn't score until the fourth quarter, when he had eight points.
"He hadn't been having good practices," McKnight said.
Guards Mike Hopkins and Mark Ramstack carried the offensive load for Mater Dei. Hopkins finished with 21 points and was 4 for 4 from the line. Ramstack scored 17 points and was 7 for 9 from the line. Char Ruppel added 10 points.
Los Alamitos (3-3)--still playing without 6-5 forward Rob Lester, who is recovering from a knee injury--fell behind, 8-0, to start the game but drew to within three late in the first quarter.
That was the closest the Griffins got. They turned the ball over numerous times against the aggressive Mater Dei defense and 24 times sent the Monarchs to the line, where they made 20 free throws.
Dre Lamoureux, 6-foot 9-inch center, and guard Brett Pagett led the Griffins with 18 points each. Forward Tony Ware added 10.
Los Alamitos also is leaving on a trip, but they will be traveling west, not east. The Griffins will spend a week at the Mid-Pacific Holiday Classic in Honolulu, Hawaii.
In other nonleague games:
Loara 50, La Habra 49 (OT)--Paul Plettinck made two free throws with 33 seconds left in overtime to lift the Saxons to their second consecutive victory.
It is the first time Loara has won two consecutive games in five seasons. Loara (2-3) was 3-18 last season and 0-20 the season before.
Plettinck finished with 19 points, and teammate Ted Buchanan scored 20.
Bob Small scored 15 points and David Stevens 14 for La Habra, which led, 31-27, after three quarters. Loara had led, 23-17, at halftime but scored just 4 points in the third quarter.
Newport Harbor 56, El Modena 47--Guard Mike Nguyen scored 19 points for the host Sailors, who led, 27-21, at halftime and were never threatened.
Forward Jim Geerlings added 12 points and 7 rebounds for Newport Harbor (5-1). El Modena (2-5) was led by guard Ramsey Rycraw's 12 points.
Trabuco Hills 76, Santa Ana Valley 64--Rick Swanwick (25 points) led four Trabuco Hills players in double figures. Ted Bolburn and Tim Manning had 14 apiece and John Barnes 13 for the visiting Mustangs.
Roshawn Lacy scored 23 for host Santa Ana Valley.