IRVINE — Another day at the factory for Mater Dei, where they churn out basketball titles in assembly-line fashion.
They got closer to completing another project Thursday. Oh sure, the Monarchs had to go a little deeper into the work force for their 89-48 victory over Hanford in front of 3,500 at the Bren Center. A rather lengthy coffee break didn't hurt either.
But all in all, it was just another day on the job. One, possibly two more are left.
By routing Hanford, the Monarchs earned a trip to Saturday's Southern California Division I final, where they will play Los Angeles Crenshaw. A victory there would put them in the State championship game.
"We're a great team with good players," Hanford Coach Kenny Hoffpauir said. "They're a great team with great players. That's the difference."
It been that way for the Monarchs through two State championships, not to mention eight Southern Section titles, in the last 10 seasons.
Still, Hanford seemed unconcerned by such tradition, at least at first. The Bullpups (26-2) brought a 19-game winning streak and five bus loads of fans to challenge that tradition and gave the Monarchs a scare through one quarter.
Hanford scored the first seven points and was even, 16-16, when a scoreboard malfunction caused a 37-minute delay.
When play resumed, so did the Monarchs' tradition. They were up, 44-29, at halftime and took the game to megarout proportions in the second half.
"We did not have the same intensity when we came back," Hoffpauir said. "But that's not an excuse."
Not in the least. It wasn't the time off the court that hurt the Bullpups, it was the time spent on the court.
Numbers did them in. The Monarchs had them, with quality.
No Mater Dei starter scored until David Drakeford's free throw with 6 minutes 33 seconds left in the second quarter. In fact, Coach Gary McKnight cleared the floor in disgust midway through the first quarter.
All five starters were yanked. Out went Mater Dei present and in came Mater Dei future .
Olujimi Mann, a freshman guard, hit a three-pointer to put the Monarchs on the board. Sophomore Clay McKnight followed with another three-pointer and it was 7-6.
Mann finished with 10 points and five assists.
"I was nervous for about 20 seconds," Mann said. "Then I made some moves, hit a shot, made some passes and everything was great."
Jerry Jones scored seven points, with McKnight and Chris Jackson each getting six. In all, the Mater Dei bench chipped in 39 points. Hanford got 16 points from its bench.
"Our second five is probably better then most of the teams we've played," guard Miles Simon said. "They're tough."
Tad Hoffman, Hanford's leading scorer, was the most affected. He made his first three shots, one a three-pointer, then was two of 12 the rest of the way. He finished with 11 points, five below his average.
Mater Dei, meanwhile, was living up and beyond it standards.
Simon scored 18 points, his average, and made six of eight shots. David Drakeford, who averages six points, hit six of nine shots and scored 14.
Mater Dei was 32 of 50 from the field.
The Monarchs' dominance wasn't just on the offensive end. On defense, Mater Dei smothered the Bullpups, who went eight minutes in the second half without scoring. The Monarchs also blocked seven shots, three by reserve center DeVaughn Wright.
"We can go 10 deep," McKnight said. "I like that."
Especially when all of them do their jobs.