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PREP EXTRA / A weekly look at the high school sports
scene in the Southland

Upland Is Ready for Biggest Test

Prep basketball: Highlanders play Mater Dei in one of several intriguing state regional semifinals.


A 32-1 record and winning the Southern Section I-AAA boys' basketball title brought Upland High respect.

But validation as a true Southland power is on the line tonight when the Highlanders play Santa Ana Mater Dei in a Division I semifinal of the Southern California regional of the state tournament at Ocean View High in Huntington Beach.

The winner advances to Saturday's final at the Forum against the winner of tonight's other semifinal between Corona Centennial and Fresno Clovis West.

"We've played everyone there is to play--Dominguez, Clovis West, Corona Centennial," Upland Coach Jeff Klein said. "This game, against this team, is what we've been working toward for a long time."

Upland advanced to the semifinals with an 80-67 victory over Encinitas Torrey Pines on Tuesday night.

"There's not enough time to do the real specialized things you could do if you had three or four days to prepare," Klein said. "It comes down to who is mentally and physically ready to go."

Upland is led by center Kirk Snyder, averaging 20 points a game, and guard Sheldon Pace, averaging 13 points and 10 assists.

Mater Dei is led by guard Cedric Bozeman, who scored 17 points in the Monarchs' 75-38 victory over Glendora on Tuesday. Mater Dei center Jamal Sampson sat out because of sore feet, but is expected to play tonight.

"They [Mater Dei] play like they are numb to pressure," Klein said. "They expect to be in the state championship game.

"But our kids have a tough side. It's going to be a great game."

While Upland is making a relatively short hop for its game, Corona Centennial will be on the road for more than four hours to Clovis West, which not only has an outstanding team but one of the most rabid followings in the state.

Centennial, which lost to Mater Dei in the Southern Section I-A final on Saturday, defeated City Section Champion Westchester, 89-86, in overtime Tuesday night.

"We saw a whole lot of pressure from Westchester, and we'll see a different kind of pressure from Clovis West," Popov said. "They do everything they can to keep you from getting into your half-court offense."

Those two Division I games are only two of several outstanding matchups in five boys' and girls' divisions.

In girls' Division I, Ventura Buena (29-1) is at Harbor City Narbonne (25-3), and Fullerton Troy (28-4) is at Lynwood (27-2).

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