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Mater Dei Blocks Path to Title for Simi Valley

Division I-A: Pioneers shoot just 24.5% from field in 53-39 loss to Monarchs, who win 14th Southern Section boys' basketball title.


ANAHEIM — Simi Valley High's quest for its first Southern Section boys' basketball title in 12 years went down in a flurry of missed shots and blocked shots in a 53-39 loss to Santa Ana Mater Dei in the Division I-A championship game at the Arrowhead Pond on Saturday night.

The Pioneers (28-3) entered the game shooting 55.3% from the field, but struggled to a 24.5% (14 of 57) effort against a tenacious man-to-man defense led by 6-foot-10 center Jamal Sampson.

Sampson, a junior who had 10 points, 17 rebounds and eight blocked shots in a 57-53 victory over Simi Valley in a first-round game of the Nike Prep Classic tournament in Encinitas in December, had 17 points, 18 rebounds--nine offensive--and eight blocked shots on Saturday to give the Monarchs their second consecutive title, eighth in nine years and 14th in 19 seasons.

"I expected to be blocking some shots," Sampson said. "But I went to the boards a little bit harder than I usually do."

Coach Christian Aurand, who guided Simi Valley to its first section title game since 1993 in his first year at the helm, credited No. 1-seeded Mater Dei (32-1) for the Pioneers' shooting woes.

"We didn't shoot well tonight," he said. "And Mater Dei had a lot to do with that."

Simi Valley had an eight-point lead over Mater Dei in the fourth quarter of its first meeting in December, but the Pioneers never led in the rematch, falling behind, 15-2, with 3:55 left in the first quarter and then playing catch-up the rest of the game.

Simi Valley trailed, 37-27, early in the third quarter, but scoreed the next five points of the game to cut its deficit to 37-32 with 6:20 remaining.

Anish Sharda, who had nine points, scored on a drive in the lane to cut Simi Valley's deficit to 37-29 and teammate Jered Weaver followed with a three-pointer to trim the deficit to 37-32.

Cedric Bozeman of Mater Dei, who had 14 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists, scored on a two-hand dunk to give the Monarchs a 39-32 lead. But Weaver followed with a layup to cut the Pioneers' deficit to 39-34 with 6:03 left.

Simi Valley trailed, 28-17, at halftime after hitting only six of 28 shots.

The Pioneers cut an 18-10 deficit at the end of the first quarter to 22-15 on a basket by Sharda with 5:18 left in the second quarter, but they wouldn't score again until Sharda hit a basket off a drive down the lane with 25 seconds left.

Simi Valley was zero for nine from the field, zero for two from the foul line and committed a turnover in between Sharda's baskets.

Sampson, who had 10 points in the first half, put on a brilliant defensive display toward the end of the second quarter when he blocked consecutive shot attempts by Michel and Peter Boon.

He followed that by fly swatting a Michel shot in the lane on Simi Valley's ensuing possession.

Mater Dei was 13 of 26 from the field in the first half.




Simi Valley's top two scorers went cold at the wrong time.


North Hollywood loses Invitational, 49-47, to Manual Arts.

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