Southern California regional basketball semifinals
Brea Olinda: The Ladycats (31-2) still entertained hopes of a national championship. A win next week over Mater Dei would avenge their only loss, and then winning a state title would position them as one of the top two teams in the country, at least. Now, no chance. One of the poorest passing performances in memory and failing to finish its chances doomed second-seeded Brea in a 63-53 loss to third-seeded Canyon Springs (30-3), which considered the victory bigger than even the one section title it has won. Brea had only 21 points at halftime and trailed by as many as 17 in the fourth quarter. They played like they expected to win, and got a good effort from Jeanier Olukemi (16 points), but victory doesn't come through entitlement. You still have to make plays.
Mater Dei: The Monarchs (32-1) are ranked No. 1 in the nation and are playing for a national title. They were were down by four points in the third quarter but rallied after an injury to Narbonne's Jamesha Chapman and took a 40-36 lead into the fourth quarter. Then they pulled away for 59-38 victory over Narbonne (31-5). Alexyz Vaioletama had a monster night with 25 points and 19 rebounds, and she was ably supported by Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, who had 14 points and five assists, and Kiki Alofaituli, who had 11 points and 10 rebounds. Mater Dei did not play with point guard Jordan Adams (dislocated shoulder) and now she has a week to get ready for Canyon Springs. Considering the injury, that's a win-win.
Orange Lutheran: The second-seeded Lancers (26-7) won their first Southern Section title this season, but the loss Saturday to third-seeded Santa Maria St. Joseph, 54-50, has to sting. OLu trailed by seven points at halftime and 43-40 going into the fourth quarter. It also had the homecourt advantage. So when Natalie Luzar hit a three-pointer to tie the score at 43-43, it looked like the Lancers were on their way. However, they went five minutes without scoring, and that was too much to overcome. Luzar had 10 points for OLu, and Krissy Karr nine.
Mater Dei:Maybe the biggest winner of all had to be fourth-seeded Mater Dei (30-3), which upset top-seeded Long Beach Poly, 72-55. Not only was Poly (31-2) the home team, but it was also the top-ranked team in the state and featured four seniors in the starting lineup. The victory has to feel good for Mater Dei, which now has a chance to avenge its Southern Section Division 1AA semifinal loss to Corona Centennial; at stake will be a trip to the state championship, and the Monarchs should be feeling like they can beat anybody now. They overcame a 19-6 deficit in the first quarter to take a 28-27 halftime lead. Katin Reinhardt scored 20, and though Xavier Johnsonscored 15, the Monarchs made their big moves late in the game with leading scorer Johnson on the bench. With only one senior among the top 10 players, Mater Dei knows its best days are ahead of it, but there's no time like the present, either.