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Friday, July 19, 2019

St. Mary’s, Mater Dei to Face Off in Nike Tournament of Champions Final

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Photo Caption: Five-eleven point guard, senior Chelsea Gray, one of the country’s top recruits, drew double and triple coverage for most of the evening, but still managed to put up 32 points to lead St. Mary’s of Stockton, California to the finals of the Nike Tournament of Champions.

Photo Credit: Full Court/Lee Michaelson

By Lee Michaelson

St. Mary’s of Stockton, California came within a single bucket of forfeiting its No. 1 national ranking in girls’ high school basketball this evening as Brea Olinda, also of California, forced them to overtime before succumbing, 66-67, in a tooth-and-nail battle for supremacy on the court.

St. Mary’s will now move on to face Orange County, California’s Mater Dei High School which won its own tough semifinal battle today, coming up with a 56-50 victory over Long Beach Poly in a game that was closer than its final score would suggest.

Brea was without the services of its star post player, 6-2 junior forward Justine Hartman, who helped the U.S. team to gold in the U16 Games this summer, scoring 10.4 points and pulling down 4.2 boards in just 16.4 minutes per game, but who suffered an ACL tear that ended her season prematurely. Then they lost 5-10 junior forward Amber VanDeudekom, who replaced Hartman in the starting line-up but broke her collar bone in Friday night’s opening game of the Nike Tournament. Van Deudekom said she was expected to be out of action for approximately five weeks. “It’s a big loss for us,” said a member of the Brea coaching staff.

But Hartman’s and VanDeudekom’s teammates stepped up to fill the gap. Brea headed out to an early lead, but St. Mary’s overtook them by the end of the first quarter, finishing the period with a slender 17-13 lead. But Brea outscored the Rams 14-11 in the second period to finish the first half down by just one point, 27-28.

Brea came out of the locker on the attack, again outscoring the Rams, 19-15. Now up by three points, the Brea bench could smell an upset and was on their feet for every play. Both teams had been pressing intensely throughout the game, and as the clocked ticked down to the final minutes, energy seemed to flag and turnovers mounted as both teams tired. Still, with just 58 seconds remaining, Brea led, 59-51.

That’s when Chelsea Gray, who led all scorers with 32 points in the outing, took over, knocking down a crucial three, one of her four longballs of the evening. Gray then picked off the inbounds pass, and put up a jumper for two more.

Photo Caption: With the clock winding down, Chelsea Gray followed a three-pointer with a steal and this jumper to put St. Mary’s, who had been down eight with less than a minute left, in range of a tie.
Photo Credit: Full Court Press/Lee Michaelson

Sophomore guard Keitra Wallace, who had an otherwise outstanding night, ending with 15 points, but was quiet in the final period of regulation, got herself to the line, where she nailed one of the pair. She will likely spend the evening ruing what might have been had she converted the second free throw.

Photo Caption: Sophomore Keitra Wallace finished with 15 points, doing most of her work in the low post, but missed one of a pair of free throws that could have allowed Brea to win in regulation.
Photo Credit: Full Court Press/Lee Michaelson

In the end, it was sophomore guard Regina Camera who saved the day for St. Mary’s. Camera had seen little action in the game, and scored only one basket. But what a basket it was—a floating three-pointer, hitting nothing but net, to tie the score at 60 apiece with 12 seconds remaining. The Rams stiffened their defense,  Brea went nowhere on their final possession, and the game went to overtime.

Gray continued to dominate in the extra minutes, scoring two buckets and knocking down two free throws as Brea struggled to move the ball against the St. Mary’s press. Alexis Perry finished a lay-up and was two-for-two from the line to keep the Ladycats’ hopes alive. But the St. Mary’s defense continued to frustrate Brea, forcing multiple turnovers, and time ran out, with the Rams up by one, 67-66.

Photo Caption: Chelsea Gray drives for two of her 32 points in St. Mary’s semifinals match against Brea Olinda in the Nike Tournament of Champions Monday.
Photo Credit: Full Court Press/Lee Michaelson

Five-ten senior guard Kelsey Harris led Brea in scoring with 18 points, including four three-balls.

Photo Caption: Kelsey Harris led a balanced Brea scoring attack with 18 points, including four longballs.
Photo Credit: Full Court Press/Lee Michaelson

Impressively athletic five-seven junior point guard Alexis Perry added 15 points, as did sophomore wing Keitra Wallace (5-10).

Photo Caption: Junior Alexis Perry posted 15 points for Brea, and did her best to keep the Ladycats alive with four points in overtime.
Photo Credit: Full Court Press/Lee Michaelson

Chelsea Gray was the only Rams’ player to finish in double figures. Senior point guards Afure Jemerigbe (5-11) and Allie Moreno added nine points apiece.

Photo Caption: Afure Jemerigbe added nine points (and relentless defense) to the St. Mary’s cause and nailed the deciding free throw in OT.
Photo Credit: Full Court Press/Lee Michaelson

Earlier in the day, Mater Dei faced its own donnybrook against Long Beach Poly. Poly got out to a strong start, leading 17-11 at the end of the first period. Mater Dei founds its footing in the second period, outscoring Poly 21-12, but did not capture its first lead of the game until the final two minutes of the half. The two teams headed to the locker room with the Monarchs up by just three points, 32-29.

Photo Caption: Mater Dei is without the services of 6-1 junior guard Alexyz Vaioletama, one of three Monarchs’ players who participated on the gold-medal winning U.S. team in the U16 championships this summer. Vaioletama, pictured on the sidelines in warm-ups, is suffering from stress fractures in both shins, and though she is due to be medically reevaulated in five weeks, her coach is not optimistic that she will be able to return this season.
Photo Credit: Full Court Press/Lee Michaelson

The game was lost for Long Beach in the third quarter, in which Poly was able to post just six points. Mater Dei cooled as well, but still managed to score 12. That margin was able to carry the day—though Poly would close to within three, 47-50, with one minute and 20 seconds left. Though they outscored the Monarchs 15-12 in the final stanza, the Jackrabbits were unable to bridge the gap. In the absence of a shot clock, they were forced to foul, and the Monarchs came through at the line.

Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis carried the day for the Monarchs, finishing with a game-high 23 points. Jordan Adams added 14 points, including two clutch free throws (not usually her strong suit) down the stretch when Poly was threatening a comeback.

Photo Caption: Six-foot guard Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis led all scorers with 23 points, despite cooling in the second half in the face of the relentless defense of Jackrabbits’ sophomore Destiny King.
Photo Caption: Jordan Adams has struggled from the line in other games, but she came through in the clutch this time, nailing two of her three free-throw attempts with Poly threatening in the fourth quarter. Adams finished with 14 points.
Photo Credit: Full Court Press/Lee Michaelson

Six-one junior post Sheila Boykin was the only Jackrabbit to breach double figures, finishing with 10 points. Five-nine sophomore wing Destiny King is also worthy of special mention. Though she posted just six points of her own, she received the difficult assignment of guarding Mosqueda-Lewis for much of the second half. The youngster succeeded in limiting the Mater Dei star to just eight point in the latter half of the game, as compared to her 15-point romp in the opening stanzas.

Photo Caption: Poly spread the scoring around with junior forward Sheila Boykin the only Jackrabbit in double figures with 10 points.
Photo Caption: Poly guard Destiny King is a player to keep an eye on. Though she scored only six points in the game, her defense was largely responsible for holding Mater Dei’s Mosqueda-Lewis, who seemed able to score at will in the opening periods, to just eight points in the second half.
Photo Credit: Full Court Press/Lee Michaelson

Brea will take on Long Beach Poly tomorrow for third-place bragging rights in the Smith Division.

In other Smith Division action, Pennsylvania’s Mt. Lebanon defeated Tennessee’s Memphis Central, 63-56.

New York’s Christ the King rolled to a 70-61 victory over Maryland’s Riverdale Baptist.

Norcross (GA) ground out a 45-34 win over ThunderRidge (CO).

Bolingbrook (IL) defeated South Eugene (OR), 57-47.

Dillard (FL) took its first win of the tournament with a 69-29 rout of Hillsboro (TN).

St. Mary’s (AZ) also notched its first “W” of the tourney with a 65-48 win over D.C.‘s H.D. Woodson.

In addition to the championship match-up between St. Mary’s and Mater Dei, the No. 1 and No. 2 girls’ high school teams in the country, respectively, tomorrow will see the following championship games in the other divisions:

DivisionHome TeamVisitor
Anderson DivisionBishop Alemany (CA)  Agoura (CA)
Gray DivisionHarvard Westlake (CA)  Canyon Springs (CA)
Black DivisionLACES (CA)  El Camino Real (CA)
Blue DivisionDesert Vista (AZ)  Campolindo (CA)
Desper DivisionOregon City (OR)  Highlands Ranch (CO)







Originally published Mon, December 21, 2009

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Week: February 7, 2012
1 Baylor (31) 24-0 1 1 1 775
2 Notre Dame 23-1 2 2 2 743
3 Connecticut 21-2 3 4 3 710
4 Stanford 20-1 4 5 4 685
5 Duke 19-3 6 8 5 650
6 Miami (FL) 20-3 7 7 6 604
7 Kentucky 21-3 5 15 7 584
8 Maryland 20-3 10 10 8 534
9 Wisconsin-Green Bay 20-0 9 24 9 530
10 Ohio State 21-2 11 NR-RV
10 483
11 Tennessee 17-6 8 3 11 476
12 Delaware 20-1 13 NR 12 434
13 Georgetown 18-5 15 11 14 379
14 Texas A&M 16-5 16 6 15 378
15 Nebraska 19-3 18 NR 13 309
16 Rutgers 17-4 14 12 17 372
17 Louisville 17-6 12 9 20 276
18 Gonzaga 21-3 19 NR-RV
19 234
19 Purdue 19-5 17 21 16 222
20 Georgia 18-6 20 12 21 202
21 Penn State 18-5 21 14 18 176
22 DePaul 17-7 23 18 NR-RV
23 Georgia Tech 16-6 22 NR-RV
22 104
24 South Carolina 18-5 NR-RV
NR 24 46
25 Vanderbilt 18-5 NR-RV
NR 45
Dropped Out: No. 24 North Carolina, No. 25 Kansas.
First-place votes: Total first-place votes received (if any) are indicated in parentheses following school name.
Others receiving votes: St. Bonaventure (22-2) 34; North Carolina (17-6) 19; California (17-6) 18; Florida Gulf Coast (21-2) 16; Middle Tennessee (19-5) 15; Texas-El Paso (20-2) 8; Texas Tech (16-6) 5; Brigham Young (21-4) 4; Fresno State (19-4) 4; St. John's (15-8) 4; Princeton (15-4) 3; Oklahoma (15-7) 2; West Virginia (17-6) 2; Kansas State (15-7) 1.
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Credit: Courtesy Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA). The weekly Division I Top 25 Coaches' Poll, sponsored by USA Today and ESPN, is based on voting by a Board of Coaches made up of 31 head coaches at Division I institutions all of whom are WBCA members.