SANTA ANA -- Katin Reinhardt may have been under the weather, but Xavier Johnson was on top of the clouds. Mater Dei, the defending champion in State Division I, opened up the Southern California Regional Championships with one of its big guns fighting flu.
But Coach Gary McKnight has more than Reinhardt in his holster.
Johnson scored 25 points and Mater Dei withstood a 3-point assault by Crescenta Valley to score a 66-47 home victory on Wednesday to advance to the second round of the tournament on Saturday.
The game was actually closer than it might appear by virtue of the Falcons' 3-point shooting. They made 8-of-19.
"I knew we were going to be in trouble because you tell guys they can shoot the three -- but they really have three or four guys who can shoot the ball -- you have a five-, six-point lead and it's looking good, boom-boom, it's tied," McKnight said.
But the star power of Mater Dei (30-2), and a 36-20 rebounding edge, helped the Monarchs avoid becoming victims of an upset.
"When you have three guys like Xavier, Stanley (Johnson) and Katin, two out of three guys will usually get you a win," McKnight said.
Stanley Johnson scored 11 points with four rebounds, four assists and four steals.
Mater Dei, which had a 15-5 lead at the end of the first quarter, trailed early in the third, 29-27. The Falcons made six of their eight 3-point baskets in that span, and took the lead when Davis Dragovich's driving layup fell through the net with 6 minutes 19 seconds remaining in the third.
For Crescenta Valley (26-6) , that was just about the last hurrah. Mater Dei scored the next eight points, and after CV's Dylan Kilgour sunk a three to cut his team's deficit to 35-32, Xavier Johnson took over.
He scored 10 of the next 13 points and Mater Dei seized control for good, setting up a second-round game against Mission Viejo, a 70-52 winner over San Diego Torrey Pines.
Reinhardt played almost 17 minutes but didn't score. He was 0-for-6 from the field, and his only real contribution was a steal and assist. The last time he failed to score? "Probably his freshman year when I didn't play him much," McKnight joked to one of his team's supporters.
With UNLV-bound guard Reinhardt a non-factor, Johnson was 10-of-15 from the field, and 4-of-6 from the free-throw line. He also led Mater Dei with 11 rebounds.
McKnight praised the play off the bench of guards Elijah Brown six points, three rebounds, one steal) and Mario Soto (eight points, five rebounds, three assists).
Cole Currie led Crescenta Valley with 13 points, including three 3-point baskets; Christian Misli scored 11 and Dragovich eight.