Los Angeles Preps: Stanley Johnson

1. Ethan Cochran continues to impress in the field events for Newport Harbor. Cochran, whose discus throw of 203 feet 10 inches is the longest in the nation, won the Beach Cities Invitational at Huntington Beach High in both the discus and the shot put. Cochran threw the discus 201 feet, the third time this month he exceeded 200 feet at an invitational. He won the shot with a put of 58-10, his season best. The top shot put in the nation this season is 64-11 by Coy Blair of Logan-Hocking (Ohio). Ramon Vargas of Huntington Beach and Brandon Radlinger of Servite were also double winners at the event. Blair took honors in the 110 (14.84 seconds) and 300 hurdles (39.38). Radlinger won the long jump (21-8) and the triple jump (44.5). In his first competition of the season, junior Sage Stone of Mission Viejo won the high jump at 6 feet 8 inches, his personal best.

2. Also at the Beach Cities Invitational, Jordan Agnew broke a 32-year Los Alamitos High record when she won the long jump with a distance of 18-10 1/2. The previous record, set in 1980 by Thelma Viagar, was 18-4 1/2. Persis Williams of Estancia and sophomore Michaela King of Dana Hills were double winners on the girls' side. Williams won the 100 (12.62 seconds) and 200 (26.32), while King took the top step of the podium in the 100 hurdles and 300 hurdles (47.40).

3. The state championship by Mater Dei boys, won Saturday against Sacramento Sheldon, was the record ninth state title for Coach Gary McKnight. The performance by Katin Reinhardt, who scored 30 points with a broken thumb and stepped up when Xavier Johnson fouled out, was simply epic. Reinhardt (30 points) and sophomore Stanley Johnson, who is only 15 years old, combined for 51 points in the 66-48 victory.

(Read full post)

Mater Dei wins ninth CIF state title

March, 24, 2012

SACRAMENTO -- Hometown favorite Sheldon put up a good fight, but there was no denying the Mater Dei boys' basketball team its record-setting ninth CIF State championship.

Mater Dei pulled away in the fourth quarter and beat Sheldon from Sacramento, 66-48, at Power Balance Pavilion on Saturday night.

Sheldon kept it close with clutch free throws and key 3-pointers, but eventually ran out of steam against the top team in the state and the ESPN Los Angeles rankings.

Mater Dei went on an 11-3 run to start the fourth quarter and built its first double-digit lead of the game.

Katin Reinhardt hit a 3-pointer, nailed a couple of free throws and dropped in a breakaway layup during the fourth-quarter run. He made six 3-pointers and set the CIF State Division I record for 3-point baskets in a game. He scored 30 points, was 6-for-12 from 3-point territory and 11-for-17 from the field.

“He can do that,” Mater Dei coach Gary McKnight said. “He can do that any time.”

The Mater Dei players pretty much took control of the game in the second half despite having Xavier Johnson foul out in the third quarter. He was upset after getting called for his fourth foul and started yelling obscenities on his way to the bench.

One of the referees gave him a technical foul for his foul language and Johnson had to sit out the rest of the game.

It didn’t matter though. Mater Dei built an eight-point lead in the third quarter before pouring it on in the fourth.

Mater Dei (34-2) outscored Sheldon, 33-21, in the second half. The Monarchs led by six points at halftime, 33-27.

(Read full post)

ONTARIO -- People talk about Mater Dei's big three, but coach Gary McKnight doesn't see it that way. He calls it the "Big Team," and his squad of front-runners -- they began the season as the No. 1 team in the state and have been there all season despite the target on their jerseys -- took another step Saturday toward repeating as state champion.

Playing the heavy to Fresno Bullard's Cinderella, Mater Dei scored an 85-66 victory at Citizens Bank Arena in the Division I finals of the Southern California Regional Championshps.

The Monarchs (33-2) will play Sacramento Sheldon (29-5), a 61-56 winner over Carmichael Jesuit, next Saturday in Sacramento at 8 p.m.

The big three, err, Mater Dei's top three players led the way against the Knights (31-4).

Xavier Johnson scored 26, Stanley Johnson 18 and Katin Reinhardt 14 for Mater Dei. But Elijah Brown added 14 and five assists, and Eli Stalzer scored eight with three assists and only two turnovers against Bullard's suffocating pressure.

"What worried me is they looked like the team that had the fairytale run that we had last year," McKnight said.

(Read full post)

Mater Dei has its own 'big three'

March, 15, 2012
Mater DeiCourtesy of Nick KozaFrom left, Katin Reinhardt, Xavier Johnson and Stanley Johnson are key cogs in Mater Dei's success.

SANTA ANA -- Most prep basketball teams from this region are lucky to have at least one star player on their roster. A select few programs suited up a pair of standouts in the same uniform. One school, however, was fortunate enough to have a trio of high-profile prospects in their mix: Santa Ana Mater Dei.

When opponents focused their efforts on limiting the effectiveness of Katin Reinhardt, the Monarchs countered with the equally dangerous Xavier Johnson. When defenses shifted toward him, a more-than-capable Stanley Johnson stepped to the forefront.

Slowing down one player was entirely possible. Shutting down two proved to be quite daunting. Completely stopping the Southland's makeshift version of “The Big Three,” albeit on a much smaller scale in comparison to the moniker recently made so well-known in NBA circles, was not met with much success.

“Go ahead, pick your poison,'' said Reinhardt during practice this past week as top-seeded Mater Dei (32-2 overall) prepared for sixth-seeded Fresno Bullard (33-3) in Saturday night's Division I championship game of the Southern California Regional Playoffs at Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario. The winner advances to next week's CIF State finals in Sacramento.

“We're not trying to be 'The Big Three' from the Boston Celtics, maybe the Miami Heat. Just kidding,'' Stanley Johnson said. “People give us nicknames, we hear the hype about the three of us, but we don't think about it. We're just Katin, Xavier and Stanley.''

Fair enough.

Whatever the case, it's difficult to argue with the success the Monarchs have enjoyed this season with Reinhardt, and the Johnsons -- who are not related -- leading the way of course.

They have gone wire-to-wire as the top-ranked team in the ESPNLosAngeles.com top 20. On the national level, it has been more of the same. Mater Dei is No. 8 in the country by ESPNHS in its latest Powerade Fab 50 rankings.

“We want to leave a legacy as, maybe, the three best players to come through Mater Dei. At same time, we know there is a lot of history at this school,'' Xavier Johnson said. “The big things for us, we're all so competitive and unselfish. Three heads are better than one.''

(Read full post)

SANTA ANA -- Katin Reinhardt returned to the Mater Dei lineup Tuesday despite playing with a broken thumb. Turns out, he broke Loyola's back.

Reinhardt didn't play like a man injured, but instead a man possessed, and coupled with the performance of Xavier Johnson led top-seeded Mater Dei to a 75-63 victory over Loyola in the semifinal round of the Southern California Regional Championships.

With the home victory over the fourth-seeded Cubs (26-6), Mater Dei (32-2) will play sixth-seeded Fresno Bullard on Saturday, 8 p.m., at Citizens Bank Arena in Ontario. Bullard defeated second-seeded Long Beach Poly, 54-52, on a three-point shot at the buzzer. Bullard is ranked No. 15 in the state, according to Cal-Hi Sports, and Poly is ranked No. 2.

The state's top-ranked team, Mater Dei, is ranked No. 8 in the nation, according to ESPNHS. Loyola was ranked No. 9 in the state.

Mater Dei beat Loyola 61-58 the last time they faced each other, in the Southern Section semifinals; in that game, Loyola's Jacob Hazzard scored 22, but on Tuesday the Monarchs held him to eight.

Last year, Mater Dei won, 72-70, despite trailing by nine in the fourth quarter. Mater Dei went on to win the state title, and nine of Mater Dei's top 10 players are back from last year's team.

Reinhardt scored scored 21, and didn't seem to hit a shot that wasn't big. Johnson spent the second half trying to play the game above the rim on both offense and defense. He scored seven in an 11-1 run to open the fourth quarter in which Mater Dei wiped out a 49-48 deficit. His last two buckets in that span came after getting offensive rebounds.

(Read full post)

SANTA ANA -- With two starters out of the lineup, you'd think Mater Dei might have a serious dropoff in talent.

You'd be wrong.

The skill sets might be a little different, but the state's top-ranked team kept rolling on Saturday with Katin Reinhardt on the bench and Eli Stalzer at home sick. The Monarchs scored a 78-66 victory Saturday over visiting Mission Viejo

Mario Soto and Elijah Brown. stepped in for Reinhardt and Stalzer.

Soto hit some big shots, including a buzzer-beater to end the third quarter, and scored 11. Brown was 6-for-6 from the free-throw line and scored 10 to complement the Monarchs' big guns.

Namely, Xavier Johnson.

Johnson scored 28 points and had a game-high 11 rebounds to lead the Monarchs' charge into the Southern California Regional semifinals next week against Loyola, a 48-35 winner over Etiwanda.

The game, though, was competitive and not nearly the one-sided affair it was in the first game of the season, 89-53. For one thing, Mission Viejo (28-5) had its football players this time and that impacted Mater Dei's Stanley Johnson, which no doubt helped keep it close.

Fullback Jahleel Pinner told coach Troy Roelen he wanted to guard Johnson, the sophomore sensation, and held him to six points, none in the first half as Mission hung tough, 34-29.

(Read full post)

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.

(Read full post)

ANAHEIM -- The California state basketball championships may be three weeks away, but the fans who filled much of the Anaheim Convention Center Arena on Saturday got a good look at a de facto state championship.

The teams ranked 1-2 in California met with a Southern Section Championship banner at stake, and they brought with them sizable winning streaks and histories.

Mater Dei won its 21st section title -- now two more than defending champion Poly -- but it was hardly in the kind of convincing fashion that makes it a can't miss on its way to another state title.

The top-seeded Monarchs, with four starters back from last year's state champion, held off Poly, 63-59, in a decision that very nearly got away from them.

Stanley Johnson was very active in the closing moments for Mater Dei (29-2), and not always in a good way. The Mater Dei sophomore made one of two free throws with 1:11 remaining to give Mater Dei a 60-58 advantage, and after Xavier Johnson made it 61-59 with 28 seconds left, the spotlight seemed solely directed on Stanley Johnson -- who is not relatied to Xavier.

With a chance to put the screws to Poly, Johnson missed a pair of free throws with 16.2 seconds left. Five seconds later, after missing an anguish-inducing first shot from the charity stripe that teased fans of both schools, he converted the second for a 62-59 lead. Then he stole the ball with three seconds remaining and made the second of two free throws for the four-point final margin.

Although Johnson wasn't perfect, he certainly made an impression on coach Gary McKnight, who talked to Johnson while the rest of the team was being introduced afterward.

"You showed you are an All-American tonight," McKnight recalled telling his prized 6-foot-7 sophomore.

(Read full post)

Mater Dei survives against Loyola

February, 28, 2012

ANAHEIM -- The two losses Mater Dei has this season came in overtime, so the last thing longtime Mater Dei basketball coach Gary McKnight wanted was to head there.

Senior forward Xavier Johnson sank two clutch free throws and the Monarchs played suffocating defense on the final possession, escaping with a 61-58 win against Loyola in a CIF-Southern Section Division 1A semifinal Tuesday night at the Anaheim Convention Center Arena.

Sharpshooter Jacob Hazzard's potential tying 3-pointer barely left his hand before it was sent back his way. Khaliq Bedart-Ghani grabbed the loose ball and fired a 3-pointer of his own but missed badly, and top-seeded Mater Dei advanced to face second-seeded Long Beach Poly in Saturday night's title game at the same venue.

"I just didn't want it to get to overtime," McKnight said.

Johnson made sure it didn't, recording game-highs of 23 points and 10 rebounds. His electrifying dunk at the end of the third quarter was exactly what a lackadaisical Mater Dei needed to wake up.

"They made one more play than we did," said Loyola coach Jamal Adams, whose team led by as many as nine late in the third quarter. "We played our tails off. No moral victories."

Recent history between the two added intrigue. Last season, defending Division 1A champ Loyola lost to Mater Dei in the Southern California regionals, 72-70, after leading by nine heading into the fourth quarter. The Monarchs went on capture the state crown in Sacramento.

Tuesday night's affair mirrored that closely: Defending state champion Mater Dei (28-2) went on a 9-0 run midway through the fourth to regain control.

(Read full post)

Loyola capable of Division 1AA glory

February, 14, 2012
If the CIF-Southern Section Division 1AA bracket unravels as many expect it to, fourth-seeded Loyola will get a shot at top-seeded Mater Dei in a dream semifinal matchup at Anaheim Arena on Feb. 28.

Yes, the boys basketball playoffs have yet to tip off and each team still has to win three games, but we're looking ahead for the sake of projection. Some recent history also adds intrigue here: Last season, defending Division 1A champ Loyola lost to Mater Dei in the Southern California regionals, 72-70, after leading by nine heading into the fourth quarter. The Monarchs went on to Sacramento and returned home with another state crown.

Think that hasn't crossed the minds of Loyola players this season?

The Cubs (21-4), at least on paper, stack up well against Mater Dei (24-2). The Monarchs have a dynamic 3-point shooter in Katin Reinhardt, and Loyola has one too in senior guard Jacob Hazzard. Mater Dei's Xavier Johnson, a Colorado signee, is one of the most versatile forwards in the Southland, but Loyola's Julian Harrell, a Pennsylvania signee, could keep up. Each team has solid role players: Mater Dei with Eli Stalzer and Elijah Brown; Loyola with Justin Childress and sharpshooter Trey Mason.

And don't forget about forward Stanley Johnson of Mater Dei and point guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright, maybe the best sophomores in the area.

Loyola, which hosts Trabuco Hills in the first round on Friday, and Mater Dei, which plays Chaparral, appear to be on a collision course. And it's impossible not to consider what may lie ahead.

Blair Angulo covers preps for ESPN Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter.

No. 1 Mater Dei 71, No. 9 LV Lutheran 66

February, 4, 2012
SANTA ANA -- If crowd murmurs were any indication, the showdown between defending state champions exceeded expectations Saturday night. Mater Dei fans hoping for yet another Monarchs blowout were in for a reality check.

The tension built but it subsided quickly.

Top-ranked Mater Dei beat La Verne Lutheran, 71-66, to successfully defend its home court in the 17th annual Nike Extravaganza, but the margin was too close for the red-clad fans. The Monarchs had won their previous eight games by an average of 30 points but trailed the Trojans early in the fourth quarter.

Mater Dei (22-2), the defending CIF Division I state champion, used one of its patented runs to pull away. Senior guard Eli Stalzer sank a jumper, forward Stanley Johnson had a monstrous breakaway dunk and Jordan Strawberry nailed a runner to create some space. The final minute turned into a free-throw shooting contest, but the Monarchs passed that test.

Ninth-ranked La Verne Lutheran (18-6), a two-time defending state titlist, showed the crowd why it has been successful in recent years. Junior guard Eric Cooper had a game-high 21 points and wing Cameron Osorno added 12.

Senior forward Grant Jerrett gave Lutheran a brief two-point lead early in the fourth quarter, but he was never heard from again. Mater Dei denied the post, forcing low-percentage shots from the perimeter. Jerrett, an Arizona signee and arguably the Southland's best prep player, had only seven points and six boards.

"We had to box out this big 6-foot-10 dude over here," said Xavier Johnson, who led Mater Dei with 19 points and 15 rebounds.

Katin Reinhardt had 17 points, and Stanley Johnson pitched in with 10 and 11 boards.

Blair Angulo covers preps for ESPN Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter.
A year ago, Orange Lutheran beat Mater Dei when they played a Trinity League basketball game at OLu.

They played there again on Wednesday, but the performance was hardly familiar.

Mater Dei -- ranked No. 1 in the Southland in the ESPNLA top 20 -- held Gabe York to six points in the first half, put up 32 points in the second quarter, and scored a 90-65 victory to remain unbeaten in the the Trinity League.

It was another disappointment for OLu (14-9, 4-4), which lost four of six games while York was out with appendicitis (including a 65-51 setback at Mater Dei), lost to No. 3 Loyola on Saturday, and play No. 2 Long Beach Poly this weekend as part of the Nike Extravaganza, which Mater Dei is hosting.

York finished with a game-high 28 points and Jordan Banks 13. However, they couldn't nearly match the horsepower of Mater Dei, the defending Division I State champion. Katin Reinhardt continued his torrid play and dropped 25 points on the Lancers, and he was complemented by Xavier Johnson (23 points, 13 rebounds) and Stanley Johnson (21 point, 12 rebounds).

Mater Dei (20-2, 7-0) plays St. John Bosco (17-5, 6-1) on Friday as part of the Nike Extravaganza before playing San Diego Lincoln on Saturday, also part of the event.

No. 1 Mater Dei 86, No. 12 St.J.Bosco 71

January, 27, 2012

BELLFLOWER -- St. John Bosco turned off the gym lights for player introductions, Mater Dei proceeded to shoot them out.

A sellout crowd that buzzed before tipoff went silent within minutes. It was supposed to be a marquee Trinity League battle, but it quickly turned into one team’s display of superiority.

[+] EnlargeMater Dei
Blair Angulo/ESPNLosAngeles.comMater Dei showed its superiority in a lopsided win over St. John Bosco.
Mater Dei flexed its muscle with a resounding 86-71 victory against St. John Bosco, taking sole possession of first place. But was the Monarchs' place atop the standings ever really in doubt?

"We wanted to prove that we're the best team in this league," Mater Dei forward Stanley Johnson said. "They were talking junk ... we wanted to prove a point."

Consider the message delivered. Colorado-bound forward Xavier Johnson had a team-high 23 points and 11 rebounds for the defending state champion Monarchs.

"We wanted to beat them huge," Xavier Johnson said.

In anticipation of a capacity crowd, school officials advised fans to arrive at least three hours ahead of the 7 p.m. tipoff. Entrance gates opened at 4 p.m., and spectators trickled in until the seats filled up an hour and a half later. A Bosco official said attendance was capped at 1,310.

The atmosphere was there. Mater Dei (19-2, 6-0 Trinity) fed off of it, opening a 21-point gap after the first quarter. UNLV-bound Katin Reinhardt poured in 17 of his 22 points in the first quarter alone, and the Monarchs sank eight 3-pointers in the first eight minutes.

"This was a hype game," said Reinhardt, who along with Xavier Johnson had been battling the flu all week. "All of Southern California wanted to come watch. We had to come out strong and put the pedal to the metal."

For now it appears as if St. John Bosco (16-5, 5-1), with talented brothers Isaac Hamilton and Daniel Hamilton, will have to wait until next season to leave its mark on the league. The Braves got to within nine midway through the third quarter, but Reinhardt answered with a dagger from the corner.

"We do that and we’re going to beat a lot of teams," Mater Dei coach Gary McKnight said. "Katin is at a different level at times."

Isaac Hamilton, a junior, finished with a game-high 30 points. Daniel Hamilton, a sophomore, had 15. The only suspense left before the final quarter? Who would be the lucky winner of the 50-50 raffle.

The teams meet again in a week, on Feb. 3 in Santa Ana. Mater Dei, like always, figures to turn off the lights for player introductions.

"Our introduction is bigger and better," Stanley Johnson said, smiling.

Blair Angulo covers preps for ESPN Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter.
1. Mater Dei (15-2) — Trailed early against Orange Lutheran before Johnson and Johnson -- Xavier and Stanley -- took over. Next: vs. Middle Village (NY) Christ the King, Monday.

2. Capistrano Valley (17-2)Aleks Lipovic hangs 19 on Aliso Niguel and 22 on Dana Hills as Cougars’ win fifth in a row to set up huge South Coast showdown. Next: vs. Mission Viejo, Wednesday.

3. Mission Viejo (18-1) — Diablos have won 18 in a row, but trailed by five in fourth quarter to El Toro before pulling out 76-72 win behind Evan Zeller's 31 points. Next: at Capistrano Valley, Wednesday.

4. JSerra (12-5) -- Lions take care of business against York-less OLu, and Devon Pflueger and Reece Lemon scored season highs against Santa Margarita. Next: vs. Mater Dei, Friday.

5. Orange Lutheran (12-4) -- With Gabe York out with appendicitis for a second week, the Lancers lose their big gun -- and two in a row, to Mater Dei and JSerra. Next: vs. La Verne Lutheran, Monday.

(Read full post)

O.C.: Mater Dei 65, Orange Lutheran 51

January, 12, 2012
The prospect of beating Mater Dei for a second year in a row was daunting enough for Orange Lutheran, which seems to be the Trinity League's best chance of knocking off the nationally ranked power.

But the prospect turned from daunting to dismal given that Gabe York was out of the lineup because of an appendectomy. Short-handed against a team with more depth than any in the Southland, the end result was a 65-51 victory on Wednesday for Mater Dei, which is ranked No. 1 in the ESPNLA top 20.

Orange Lutheran (12-3, 2-1) is ranked No. 3. The Lancers are the top-ranked team in the Southern Section Division 1A ranking.

Although you hate to call it this early, Mater Dei (14-2, 2-0) probably clinched a share of the Trinity League title with the victory.

York, who has committed to Arizona, figures to be back in the lineup when the teams meet in the second round of league play, Feb. 1, at Orange Lutheran. A year ago, OLu won at home against the Monarchs, 59-56, handing them their only county loss since 2005.

Junior Jordan Banks, called upon to pick up the slack of York's absence, scored a game-high 30 points but he was spread too thin. He scored 13 of Lutheran's first 16 points for a 16-15 lead, but Mater Dei seized control with a 10-2 run to close the half. Mater Dei extended the lead by a point through three quarters, and outscored the Lancers in the fourth, 23-17.

Xavier Johnson, who was largely guarded by Banks, scored 27 for Mater Dei and Stanley Johnson 17.