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Simi Valley Mounts Challenge to Mater Dei's Title Tradition

Boys' basketball: Pioneers try to keep Monarchs from winning 14th section crown in Division I-A final tonight.


There are basketball programs with winning traditions, and then there are programs with championship traditions.

The difference is evident when examining the histories of the Simi Valley High and Mater Dei boys' teams that meet for the Southern Section Division I-A title at 8:45 tonight at the Arrowhead Pond in Anaheim.

No. 3-seeded Simi Valley (28-2) has compiled a 104-15 record in the last four seasons, won 23 or more games in nine of the last 17 seasons and is trying to win its second section title and first since 1988.

Top-seeded Mater Dei (31-1) has won 13 section titles in the last 18 seasons and is seeking its second in a row and eighth in nine years.

"We've been blessed with a lot of good players," said Gary McKnight, in his 18th season as Mater Dei's coach. "But we've been able to get them to play together as a team, and that's not always easy because of jealousies and egos.

"We've been able to get the kids to sacrifice some individual statistics for a chance to play for a [Southern Section] title."

Mater Dei lost to Miami Northwest Christian and Concord De La Salle earlier this season, but Northwest Christian forfeited its victory because of an ineligible player.

The Monarchs have defeated Simi Valley twice in the last year--56-43 in the I-A semifinals last season and 57-53 in a first-round game of the Nike Prep Classic tournament in Encinitas in December.

But McKnight is taking nothing for granted in the rematch.

"They're a very solid team," he said of Simi Valley. "[Branduinn] Fullove is a handful. [Brett] Michel can shoot the ball and [center Dustin Villepigue] is playing very well.

"I know [that point guard Shaun Michel quit at the end of the regular season], but it doesn't seem to have hurt them. We've watched them on film and they're playing very well. You don't win your semifinal by [19] points on the road and be just a decent team."

One of the key matchups is at center between 6-foot-10, 210-pound Jamal Sampson of Mater Dei and the 6-9, 212-pound Villepigue.

Sampson, a junior, missed 11 games in the regular season because of a virus. He had 10 points, 17 rebounds and eight blocked shots in Mater Dei's victory against Simi Valley in December.

Villepigue, a junior, was the third option behind Fullove and Brett Michel in Simi Valley's offense for most of the season.

He had 23 points and 12 rebounds in a 77-58 semifinal victory over Moreno Valley Rancho Verde on Tuesday, following a 22-point, 11-rebound effort in a 66-51 quarterfinal victory over Villa Park.

Fullove, a 6-5 guard, is averaging 24.7 points and Michel, a 6-6 forward, is averaging 20.4.

The Pioneers are making their first title-game appearance since a 61-59 double-overtime loss to Long Beach Jordan in the 1993 4-A final.

Fullove and Michel, four-year starters, rank second and fourth on the Ventura County career scoring list, and Michel could move to third with four points tonight.

For Mater Dei, Cedric Bozeman, a 6-5 junior guard, is averaging 14 points and five rebounds, and 6-foot senior guard Steve Scoggin is averaging 14 points.

Sampson is averaging 13 points and 10 rebounds, but those numbers are deceiving because he played sparingly in the first few games back from illness.



Simi Valley


No. Player Pos. Ht. Yr. 11 K.C. Bellefontaine F 6-4 So. 12 Danny Bellefontaine G 6-0 Jr. 13 Stevie Martin G 5-8 Jr. 20 *Peter Boon F 6-4 Sr. 21 *Anish Sharda G 6-2 Sr. 22 Ryan Bradshaw G 6-2 Jr. 25 Jered Weaver G 6-4 Jr. 30 *Dustin Villepigue C 6-9 Jr. 32 *Brett Michel F 6-6 Sr. 33 *Branduinn Fullove G 6-5 Sr.



Mater Dei


No. Player Pos. Ht. Yr. 3 Matt Leinart F 6-5 Jr. 5 Geoff McKnight G 5-11 Sr. 11 Pat Hadden G-F 6-2 So. 12 Nick Farano G-F 6-0 Sr. 20 *Ricky Porter G 6-2 Jr. 21 *Cedric Bozeman G 6-5 Jr. 22 *Steve Scoggin G 6-0 Sr. 24 Travis Gabler G 6-1 Jr. 30 Brian Baker G 5-11 Jr. 31 *Jamal Sampson C 6-10 Jr. 33 *Mike Strawberry F 6-4 So. 35 Travis Delgado F 6-5 Jr. 43 James Webster G 6-3 So. 44 Christian McGuigan G 6-2 Sr. 54 Harrison Schaen F 6-7 Fr.


*Probable starters

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