The best way to prove that beating the second-best team in California is no fluke is to beat the best team in California. Etiwanda did so Saturday night, knocking off top-seeded Santa Ana Mater Dei , 54-51, to win the Southern Section Division 1AA championship at the Anaheim Convention Center.
In doing so, the Eagles made a case that they are the No. 1 team in California.
Stanley Johnson's game-tying three-pointer hit the rim with two seconds left and the clock ran out while both teams fought for the rebound.
It had been a remarkable comeback by Mater Dei, which had trailed, 50-36, with less than three and a half minutes to play.
Kenny Barnes had a chance to clinch the game for Etiwanda with 8.6 seconds left, but he missed two free throws, giving Mater Dei (30-2) one last chance.
"I was nervous on those last two free throws," said Barnes, who led the sixth-seeded Eagles with 16 points. "There was too much going through my mind, I was looking at the crowd and I shouldn't have done that. We knew would beat them. They had to adjust to what we were doing, not the other way around."
Jordan McLaughlin finished with 14 points and Delewis Johnson had 12 for Etiwanda.
Four days after their stunning, 59-55 overtime victory over second-seeded Long Beach Poly, the Eagles pulled off an even bigger upset by dethroning a Monarchs team that not had not lost to a team from California all season.
The real shocker, though, was how easy Etiwanda made it look for most of the night.
"We did a nice job of distributing the ball and getting everyone involved," Etiwanda Coach David Kleckner said. "The kids played with confidence and I think we proved people wrong tonight."
Mater Dei's comeback hopes were dealt a blow when Johnson picked up his third personal foul on a charging violation with 1:30 remaining in the third quarter and the Monarchs trailing, 43-30.
Mater Dei did not give up, however, and pulled to within 54-51 on Elijah Brown's basket with 45 seconds left. Brown had 21 points and Stanley Johnson added 18 for Mater Dei.