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Nirra Fields sparks Mater Dei to girls' Division I title

Senior guard scores 24 points to lead the Monarchs past Berkeley, 57-40, at Sacramento. Laguna Hills loses in Division III final.

March 24, 2012|By Steve Galluzzo
  • Mater Dei players and coaches pose with their trophy after a 57-40 victory over Berkeley in the Division I state championship game on Saturday night at Power Balance Pavilion in Sacramento.
Mater Dei players and coaches pose with their trophy after a 57-40 victory… (Steve Galluzzo / For The…)

Reporting from Sacramento — The highly anticipated rematch between regional powers had a new cast of characters, but on the biggest stage it was Santa Ana Mater Dei's stars who shined the brightest.

Senior guard Nirra Fields showed why she is headed for UCLA next season, scoring 24 points and dishing out six assists to lead the Monarchs to their second straight Division I state championship and third consecutive state title with a 57-40 victory over Berkeley on Saturday night at Power Balance Pavilion.

"I never let it enter my mind that we had them," said Fields, a stepdaughter of Lakers Coach Mike Brown and a transfer from Canada who was at Oak Hill Academy in Virginia last year. "It's the state championships, so no lead is big enough. I'm so happy. It's an unexplainable feeling. In my first three years I've been the main player but on this team we have so many other options."

Berkeley, the North Coast Section champion, led, 16-15, at the end of the first quarter but it was all Mater Dei after that. The Southern Section Division IAA champion Monarchs (34-3) outscored the Yellowjackets, 14-2, in the second quarter and held them without a field goal for more than eight minutes. Alexas Williamson had 16 points for Mater Dei, which won the Division II state title in 2010 before moving to Division I.

"Every championship is special because each team has its unique set of challenges," said Coach Kevin Kiernan, who has won six state titles — three each at Fullerton Troy and Mater Dei. "It's like your kids. They're all different but you love them all the same."

Mater Dei won its final 13 games, all by double digits. The Monarchs defeated Berkeley, 59-47, last year when national player of the year Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis (now at Connecticut) was Mater Dei's go-to player and Brittany Boyd (now at California) was Berkeley's standout. This time, the Yellowjackets had to contend with two McDonald's All-Americans in Fields and USC-bound guard Jordan Adams, who finished with 13 points and 11 rebounds.

"We weren't playing great at first, but at least we were trading baskets with them and I liked the shots we were getting offensively," Kiernan said. "They only got 24 points the last three quarters, so that's pretty good defense."

In the Division III final, Laguna Hills scored the fewest points ever in a state championship game in a 62-24 loss to Oakland Bishop O'Dowd.

Senior forward Celia Marfone led Laguna Hills with 12 points and 11 rebounds and junior guard Maddy Ziering-Smith had two steals and 10 points, including six for six from the free-throw line, but the Hawks (26-9) fell behind, 10-0, and were outscored, 17-2, in the fourth quarter.

Laguna Hills made all 10 of its free throws but made only seven of 39 shots from the field (17.9%), including 0 for 11 from three-point range.

San Luis Obispo Mission Prep rallied in the final three minutes, cutting a 15-point deficit to five points with less than 40 seconds left, but Stockton Brookside Christian held on for a 70-64 victory in the Division V final.

Forward Bri Harvey had 22 points and guard Jenna Dunbar scored 11 of her 17 points in the fourth quarter for the Royals (32-2), who suffered their first defeat in 30 games and dropped to 0-7 in state finals.

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