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Augustine Works His Magic Again

Division I-A basketball: Senior guard is sensational in leading Mater Dei to 88-70 victory and sixth section title in row.

March 09, 1997|PAUL McLEOD | TIMES STAFF WRITER

ANAHEIM — There were some anxious moments at the end of the third quarter Saturday night at the Pond.

Guard Kevin Augustine, Mater Dei's Mr. Everything, went down to the floor in front of the Monarch bench clutching his left knee in the Southern Section Division I-A championship game against Etiwanda (24-6).

It was the same knee Augustine injured in the opening round of the playoffs against El Toro.

Fortunately for Mater Dei, it turned out to be only calf cramps.

Augustine returned in the fourth quarter and picked up two assists, two key rebounds and four free throws in the first four minutes to lead Mater Dei to an 88-70 victory and its sixth consecutive section title.

Mater Dei (30-2), which has won 12 section titles overall, advanced to the Southern California regionals, where the Monarchs are expected to be top-seeded.

Augustine, who is also playing despite a partial muscle tear in his right shoulder, has been working this kind of magic for several seasons. He was sensational again Saturday, making all 18 free throws and finishing with a game-high 32 points. Augustine, a senior and The Times' 1996 player of year, also finished with six assists and six rebounds.

"Kevin has been pretty banged up, but he has been doing this kind of thing every night," Coach Gary McKnight said. "Let's face it. He's the best. He's the CIF player of the year and he's done this kind of thing for us for the last four years."

Center Mike Vukovich, who fouled out with 2 minutes 46 seconds to play and Mater Dei leading by 17 points, had 17 points and eight rebounds. Guard David Castleton, whose three-point field goal and free throw with 5:52 left capped a 10-0 Monarch run at the start of the fourth quarter, scored 16 points and Anthony Vallas added 10. Corey Landrum scored 17 points for Etiwanda and teammate Matt Donahue had 16 and Gary Colbert had 13.

"We made too many unforced turnovers," Etiwanda Coach Dave Kleckner said. "We couldn't afford to do that against Mater Dei. They are a little bigger than we are and they wore us down in the fourth quarter."

McKnight said the Monarchs had a good opportunity to exploit the low post against the Eagles, and in the early going they did that. Vukovich scored on several jump hooks and a few layups to keep the Eagles at bay.

But when Vukovich received his third foul early in the second quarter, it changed things dramatically.

"That did worry us a little bit," Castleton said. "They are a little smaller than we are and so we decided to move the ball around more to create some things for us."

Etiwanda matched the Monarchs basket for basket in the opening four minutes before a jump hook by Vukovich gave Mater Dei a 14-12 lead it would never relinquish.

Vukovich followed two free throws, and when Castleton drove and scored on a reverse lay-in, the Monarchs led, 19-12.

Shortly thereafter Vukovich got sloppy. The next time down the floor he was called for making a moving screen, and then on the other side of the court, he contested a layup by Etiwanda's Jeremy Sargent and fouled him, his third of the game.

With Vukovich on the bench, Augustine picked up the slack. He drove the lane for a basket and a 34-28 lead and made two free throws and a three-pointer just before the first-half buzzer. Mater Dei led, 39-33, at the half.

By now, Etiwanda is accustomed to battling back. A 10-foot baseline jumper by David Campbell and a three-pointer from Landrum cut Mater Dei's lead to 42-41.

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