Elijah Brown, the son of Lakers Coach Mike Brown, did something Saturday in the Division I Southern California Regional final that would have brought his father to his feet clapping with pride and joy.
Brown dove for a loose ball in the first quarter against Fresno Bullard, scrapped and clawed for the ball, then flipped it to Santa Ana Mater Dei teammate Xavier Johnson, who made a layup, was fouled and completed a three-point play. Brown's hustle was contagious and sent a message of toughness and unselfishness.
Mater Dei (33-2) went on to secure an 85-66 victory over Bullard at the Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, earning a spot in next Saturday's 8 p.m. Division I state championship game against Sacramento Sheldon at Power Balance Pavilion in Sacramento.
Mater Dei will be seeking its ninth state title in Coach Gary McKnight's 30 seasons as coach.
Coaches want their teams and players to reach peak form in March, and there's no doubt that Mater Dei's 6-foot-7 Xavier Johnson is doing just that. He has been delivering one productive game after another in the post season.