A ticket to Wednesday night's Trinity League basketball game between host Bellflower St. John Bosco and Santa Ana Mater Dei was so much in demand that a Bosco student begged to be a water boy trying to get a good seat.
A capacity crowd of more than 1,500 witnessed an individual performance by 6-foot-7 junior Stanley Johnson of Mater Dei that only future McDonald's All-Americans pull off.
Johnson scored 25 points, grabbed 21 rebounds and had five assists to help the top-ranked Monarchs (17-0) come away with a 79-67 victory. It was Johnson's relentless energy that the Braves (10-2) could never match.
"He's a real treat," Mater Dei Coach Gary McKnight said. "He's so versatile. The bigger the game, the bigger Stanley plays. He's one of the best we've ever had."
Said St. John Bosco Coach Derrick Taylor: "He's better than I ever thought."
Elijah Brown scored 25 points to support Johnson, and Mater Dei's defense was effective at taking St. John Bosco out of its comfort zone on offense.
"Our coaches gave us the greatest game plan," Johnson said. "It was a team win."
Isaac Hamilton led St. John Bosco with 25 points, but the Braves shot only 41% from the field and were outrebounded, 42-33.
"We didn't get into a real groove," Hamilton said. "It was a learning experience."
Mater Dei put together a 12-0 run in the first quarter, but St. John Bosco fought back. A key play in the second quarter was Chris Nealey's making a three-pointer at the buzzer to give the Monarchs a 38-30 halftime lead.
The third quarter was all about Johnson taking control. And even though St. John Bosco fans briefly chanted "MVP, MVP, MVP" for Hamilton, there was no doubt who the best player on the court was on this night.
"This is not the championship of the world for their team or our team," McKnight said. "This is a game that will get us both ready to compete for a CIF championship."
The two teams have a rematch set for Jan. 30 at Mater Dei.