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Mater Dei Finally Defeats Crenshaw

March 09, 2000|BEN BOLCH

Crenshaw had always found a way to beat Santa Ana Mater Dei in the teams' five previous meetings in the Southern California regional boys' basketball playoffs.

No matter how big the deficit the Cougars faced, they always came back to win.

And, at least momentarily in the fourth quarter of Wednesday night's Division I matchup at Huntington Beach Ocean View, history appeared on the verge of repeating itself as Crenshaw took a two-point lead after trailing by as many as 15 points.

But there was no way top-seeded Mater Dei was going to surrender this time.

Monarch forward Mike Strawberry scored seven points during a 14-0 fourth-quarter run as the Monarchs wore down the Cougars for an 85-66 victory.

"That was a tough first-round game for a top seed," Mater Dei Coach Gary McKnight said. "It's nice, but it would feel better to win Friday night."

The Monarchs (33-1) will face Westchester, a 74-56 winner Wednesday over Chino Hills Ayala, in a semifinal Friday at Ocean View.

Mater Dei's season remains alive because its top players came through against the Cougars (21-4). Strawberry finished with 17 points, while center Jamal Sampson added 16 points, 13 rebounds and seven blocked shots. Guards Ricky Porter and Steve Scoggin scored 16 points each, and guard Cedric Bozeman had 11 points and 10 assists.

Strawberry scored on a putback, a three-point play after drawing a foul on a reverse one-handed lay-in under the basket, another layup and a short basket off the glass as the Monarchs turned a 57-56 deficit early in the fourth quarter into a 70-57 lead.

The Monarchs appeared on cruise control after shooting 61.5% from the field in the first half for a 38-25 lead.

But the Cougars staged a spirited rally in the third quarter led by center Chris Davis and guard Tommy Johnson. Davis scored 12 of his 16 points in the quarter and Johnson made two-three pointers and a four-point play after getting fouled on another three-pointer as Crenshaw pulled to within 56-55 heading into the fourth quarter.

Johnson finished with 27 points, seven rebounds and five assists.

"Getting to the state playoffs was great," Cougar Coach Willie West said. "We only had two returning starters. Nobody gave us a chance to play in the City championship, much less this game."

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