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HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL

Mater Dei finds way to remain perfect

January 31, 2008|Eric Sondheimer | Times Staff Writer

Just as Santa Margarita students were plotting how best to storm their home court Wednesday night to celebrate an upset victory over unbeaten Santa Ana Mater Dei, the Monarchs showed why they are the No. 1-ranked boys' basketball team in the Southland.

Trailing by seven points entering the fourth quarter, Mater Dei's defensive pressure produced five turnovers, five missed shots and sparked a 17-0 run during a 5 1/2 -minute span, resulting in a 67-60 victory over the Eagles.

It was Mater Dei's 24th consecutive win and gave the Monarchs an 8-0 record in the Trinity League, clinching at least a share of the league title. Santa Margarita, ranked No. 4 by The Times, dropped to 21-3 and 6-2.

"We just stepped up and played hard," said 6-foot-10 junior David Wear, who had a game-high 22 points. "We left it out on the court."

Gary Franklin had 17 points and Andy Brown, who received scholarship offers this week from Michigan and Utah, had 16 points for Mater Dei.

Santa Margarita opened a 50-43 lead through three quarters thanks to hot shooting from three-point range. The Eagles made nine three-pointers but only one in the fourth quarter. Klay Thompson finished with 19 points.

The first two minutes of the fourth quarter told the story of Mater Dei's comeback. Wear started it with a three-point play. Then came a steal and a Franklin layup. Then Brown made a three-pointer and after a traveling call, Wear made a 10-foot baseline jumper, giving Mater Dei a 53-50 lead. By the time Jaime Serna scored for Santa Margarita with 2:28 left, the Monarchs' lead was 60-52.

Mater Dei figures to receive another strong challenge in its bid for a perfect season Saturday when the Monarchs take on Chicago Farragut in the Nike Extravaganza at Mater Dei. Santa Margarita faces Compton Dominguez the same day.

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eric.sondheimer@latimes.com

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