Los Angeles Preps: Jessica Duarte

Orange County: Mater Dei 63, Brea Olinda 54

March, 5, 2011
ANAHEIM --Getting big performances from a number of players, including 18 points off the bench, Mater Dei won the showdown for girls' basketball national supremacy against Brea Olinda, 63-54, on Friday at Anaheim Convention Center Arena to capture the CIF-Southern Section Division 1AA championship.

The title was the third in a row for Mater Dei, which entered the game as the No. 2 team in the country. The No. 1 team?


The Ladycats, like Mater Dei (29-1), were also going for their third consecutive section title. The Southern Regional finals begin next week and the regional finals — the likely rematch — will be March 19 at the Galen Center.

Kevin Kiernan, the coach of Mater Dei — his team won a state title last season—knows that these two teams probably will meet in the Southern Regional finals, but he was relishing the victory over such an accomplished program and putting off worry about the state tournament until Monday.

"These games are so hard," he said. "Mater Dei is a great school, a great program with great players. When you play a team like Brea with great kids, great talent, great coaching -- those are the gratifying moments."

That gratifying moment came after Brea (29-1) nearly came back from oblivion, cutting a 56-41 deficit with 6 minutes 2 seconds remaining to two possessions, 59-54, with 1:24 to go. But Brea, which wiped out most of a 12-point first-quarter deficit before halftime only to give up the first eight points of the third quarter, had the comeback end there with Keitra Wallace's final free throw. The Ladycats were 0 for 3 from the field while Mater Dei made four of six free-throws.

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SANTA ANA -- Jessica Duarte had a season-high 29 points as second-seeded Mater Dei advanced to a regional semifinal showdown with top-seeded Brea Olinda with a hard-fought 70-61 victory over Hanford.

Duarte, a 5-foot-11 junior forward, was an inside-outside threat, making three three-point baskets to go along with several layups and putbacks.

The victory for the Monarchs (30-1) sets up a regional final against Brea Olinda, the only team to defeat Mater Dei over the last two seasons. They are the top two teams in the ESPN Rise state rankings.

Orange County: Mater Dei looks
unbeatable behind Adams' big night

March, 11, 2010
SANTA ANA -- After scoring a 42-point victory in the Southern Section 2A finals, it would seem Mater Dei would be hard-pressed to top that performance.

Somehow, it did. The second-seeded Monarchs scored a 74-35 victory Thursday over Villa Park with a solid game defensively and a brilliant game offensively.

It spelled an easy victory for Mater Dei (29-1), ranked No. 4 in the nation by ESPN Rise as it made another step toward an apparent showdown in the Southern California Regional Finals with No. 3 Brea Olinda, the only team to beat the Monarchs the past two seasons.

With Jordan Adams and Alexas Williamson leading the way, a 25-4 run in the first half put the game out of reach as everything the Monarchs put in the air seemed to land inside the rim. The made 18 of 30 shots in the first half, yet the most impressive thing about it: Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, Mater Dei's best player and leading scorer, had only two points at halftime, yet the Monarchs held a 49-20 lead.

Adams, a sophomore scored 11 points, 11 rebounds, 11 assists and three blocked shots. She is considered one of the top sophomores in the country, and for good reason by the way she played against the Spartans.

"If there's anybody who thinks Jordan Adams is overrated, I'd like to meet them," said Kevin Kiernan, Mater Dei's coach. "Jordan had a heck of a game. Everything we scored in the first half was because Jordan had a hand in it. She's a really amazing player."

The lead reached 41 points late in the third quarter, 67-26, and the game's final 4:33 was played with a running clock.

Lewis finished with 14 points, but Jessica Duarte led all scorers with 21 points, 15 in the first half. Williamson, a sophomore, scored 10, eight in the first half.

After having lost to top-seeded Brea Olinda on Saturday in the 2AA finals, 63-38, Villa Park (25-8) was hoping to restore its reputation. Instead, it had the distinction of playing two of the nation's best teams in six days, and taking it hard on the chin against both.

Nicole Ballestero scored 14 for the Spartans, and Brianna Salvatore 11.