Saturday, February 4, 2012
Girls: Windward 65, Mater Dei 62
Ranked 1-2 in the state by Cal-Hi Sports, Los Angeles Windward completed a sweep of the three teams that have ruled girls' basketball in Southern California—and state—for years.
In Mater Dei's Meruelo Events Center in the final game—the marquee game—of the first day of the Nike Extravaganza, Windward scored a 65-62 victory over the two-time defending state champion and host Monarchs.
Windward (21-3) came into the game ranked No. 6 nationally in the ESPN Powerade Fab 50; Mater Dei (21-3) is No. 11.
He said that his team will be better for having played the game regardless of the outcome, a sentiment that was echoed by Windward coach Steve Smith about a 62-48 loss three weeks ago to the No. 1 team in the country, Phoenix St. Mary's.
Mater Dei trailed last year's Division V state champ by 11 in the first quarter but pulled even at halftime, 31-31. Windward stretched a 47-45 lead going into the fourth quarter to 10 points, and it looked like the Wildcats would win in a runaway. Instead, in a 65-second span, Mater Dei cut its deficit to 61-58 with 1:13 remaining. Mater Dei couldn't get any closer, but the Monarchs weren't out of it until Khalia Lark's three-point attempt was short with one second remaining.
Windward got double-digit scoring from four players—but not 6-7 center Imani Stafford. The Texas-bound center had nine points and 15 rebounds. Macchiati Smith scored 16 for Windward, Courtney Jaco 12 and Kristen Simon and Jordin Canada 10.
Mater Dei was led by UCLA commit Nirra Fields, who scored 26 points and Alexas Williamson with 17. Lark and USC-bound Jordan Adams were the next highest scorers for Mater with six apiece.
Windward this season has defeated Brea Olinda, Long Beach Poly and Mater Dei.