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Mater Dei Back in the Rout Business : Division I: After scare against Edison, Monarchs return to form with an 85-54 pounding of Crescenta Valley.


IRVINE — Mater Dei got back to the business of being Mater Dei on Tuesday night in the first round of the Southern California Regional Division I boys' basketball playoffs.

The Monarchs, shaken and rattled by Edison in the Southern Section I-A final, found a perfect way to vent their frustrations. They pummeled La Crescenta Crescenta Valley, 85-54, at the Bren Center to advance to Thursday's regional semifinal.

Mater Dei (32-0) will play Fresno Bullard at Ocean View High. "I'm a lot happier with that performance," Monarch Coach Gary McKnight said. "I have a smile on my face tonight."

It was a far cry from the scowl he had Saturday after the Monarchs barely held on for a 65-59 victory in the section final. Mater Dei nearly blew a 15-point fourth quarter lead, which prompted McKnight to tear into his team in the locker room afterward.

All was forgotten and forgiven Tuesday.

Crescenta Valley was the perfect ego-booster. The Falcons had little quickness and not much depth.

The Monarchs, ranked second in the nation by USA Today, still looked wobbly at times. But they also showed the kind of killer instinct that had chewed up one opponent after another during the regular season and most of the playoffs.

The Monarchs led, 40-28, at halftime, and just kept extending that lead. Crescenta Valley (19-11) got no closer than 14 points in the second half. It was a 20-point spread most of the fourth quarter.

Crescenta Valley was smothered offensively. Richard O'Neill scored 17 points, three below his average. The 6-foot guard made only four of 25 shots, as the 6-4 Miles Simon hounded him and pounded him.

Brock Jacobsen had 10 points in the first quarter, but only eight the rest of the game. No one else made a ripple for the Falcons.

"We were ready tonight," Simon said. "We were ready from the start."

Schea Cotton certainly was.

Cotton, a 6-foot-5 freshman forward, had his first shot attempt blocked by Mike Crowder. Cotton then scored nine of Mater Dei's first 12 points--six on dunks.

Crescenta Valley had no one who could match up with him. The Falcons only inside force was gone before the second half was a minute old. Blake Jacobson, a 6-8 center, fouled out with 7 minutes 9 seconds left in the quarter. The middle was left wide open.

Cotton made 12 of 19 shots, scored 29 points and had 16 rebounds. Shaun Jackson scored 12 points and had 12 rebounds.

Cotton and Simon had accounted for 51 of the Monarchs' 65 points against Edison. The Monarchs had four players in double figures Tuesday. Clay McKnight scored 17 and Simon 12.

"We were balanced tonight," McKnight said. "That's what is best for Mater Dei."

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