SANTA ANA — The last team to dethrone the Mater Dei boys’ basketball team as Trinity League champions, albeit temporarily, was St. John Bosco in the 2018-19 season.
The Braves improved their chances of a possible repeat this season on Friday night as they handed the Monarchs their first home loss in the league since 1998.
Sophomore guard Elzie Harrington scored seven of his powerful 21 points in the fourth quarter to help the Braves secure a 67-64 win over Mater Dei in the first week of the Trinity League.
The Braves (16-3, 2-0) are level on points with Santa Margarita (2-0 in the league) for first place.
The Monarchs (13-3, 1-1), the No. 1 team in Orange County, had a chance to level the score and send the game into overtime. They set up an inbounds game with 2.8 seconds left and got the ball to freshman guard Luke Barnett. His clear shot from beyond the arc hit the rim but ricocheted off, giving the Braves their first win over the Monarchs in two years.
St. John Bosco 67
Mater Dei 64
Luke Barnett’s 3-for-tie falls short as the Braves clinch their first win over the Monarchs in 2 years.@ocvarsity @SteveFryer @Frankie Bur @latsondheimer @johnwdavis @BoscoBasketball pic.twitter.com/2fqKLGSvYJ
— David Delgado🇪🇨 (@DavidDelgado_OC) January 7, 2023
“I thought both teams fought incredibly hard,” said St. John Bosco coach Matt Dunn. “I had a great view of (the last shot), it was right on my line (sight) and it was right on the line when he shot it, it just demarcates.”
Mater Dei coach Gary McKnight said his young side could learn from the setback.
“We have a lot of young kids that are playing and I think that can only help us,” McKnight said. “Trinity League sets you up pretty well for the playoffs, so I see it as a positive. I was proud of the kids tonight, I thought they played really hard and had some really good moments.”
The Monarchs took the lead late in the third quarter when Scotty Belnaps 3-pointer made it 51-48. But the Braves’ Kade Bonam nailed a 3-pointer when the buzzer sounded to tie the score.
Harrington’s performance in the fourth quarter included two outstanding plays, an acrobatic three-point play and a superb steal and breakaway dunk that gave St. John Bosco a 59-53 lead.
Mater Dei was about 2 minutes into the game with six points behind. Things almost unraveled for Bosco when a blocking foul near midfield gave the Monarchs a 1-and-1 at the free-throw line.
Moments later, a Braves assistant coach was called out for a technical foul that gave Mater Dei an additional 1-1 that the Monarchs converted.
“It was a tough time, our staff made a mistake,” Dunn said. “That’s a bad time for one (a technical) when they’re already shooting two (free throws), so they get four (free throws) and the ball. But that showed a lot of staying power from our guys.”
Bonam scored 17 points and made four 3-pointers. The Braves’ Jack Turner had 15 points and six assists, and Xinyi Li finished the tournament with 12 points and four rebounds.
Barnett caught fire in the second quarter when he scored 13 of his 17 points during that period, including three 3-pointers. That helped Mater Dei build a seven-point half-time cushion.
Mater Dei senior Zack Davidson added 16 points while freshman Che Brogan added 11 points.
“We shot 60% in the first half and second half, not bad, but we didn’t shoot that high and we had some disappointments,” McKnight said.
Dunn noted the impact Amiri Meadows had on the Braves in the second half.
“I thought defending Amiri Meadows changed the game,” Dunn said. “As he went in the third quarter, he changed the pace of the game and eventually got a little bit faster, which is what we needed.”
Mater Dei plays St. Vincent-St. Mary, LeBron James’ alma mater, at 4:30 p.m. Saturday at USC’s Galen Center.
Bosco’s next game is Wednesday’s next game against JSerra, who lost to Santa Margarita 56-42 on Friday.
https://www.ocregister.com/2023/01/07/st-john-bosco-basketball-hands-mater-dei-its-first-league-loss-at-home-since-1998/ St. John Bosco Basketball hands Mater Dei first home loss in league since 1998 – Orange County Register