Mater Dei girls win third straight title

SACRAMENTO -- After eight minutes on Saturday night, the CIF Division I girls championship game looked an awful lot like the 2011 edition. Mater Dei is sure glad it ended in much the same fashion as well.

The Monarchs trailed early but eventually wore down and defeated Berkeley 57-40 for a second straight title-game victory over the Yellow Jackets and a state championship three-peat. Mater Dei won the Division II title in 2010. It is the school’s fourth girls' state basketball championship.

“You always want to win your last game especially being a senior,” Monarchs senior guard Jordan Adams said. “Not many people can say that they have three state championships and I’m just so proud of my team.”

Adams and fellow senior guards Kaija Powell and Alexas Williamson have been a part of all three recent Monarchs championship teams, including national championships in 2010 and 2011.

Berkeley led 16-13 late in the first quarter on the strength of a hot start from the field, much like last year when they led Mater Dei 16-8. But on Saturday senior guard Nirra Fields, who was not at Mater Dei last year, took over. Fields had a put-back on the Monarchs’ final possession of the quarter to cut the deficit to one, then scored their first eight points of the second quarter, part of a 14-2 run to claim control.

Berkeley was able to score just two points -- on free-throws -- in the second quarter and eight in the third while the Monarchs broke the game open.

“We started guarding some people,” Mater Dei coach Kevin Kiernan said. “Playing defense the way we know how. We don’t want to trade baskets with anybody, we want stops.”

Adams finished with a double-double recording 13 points and 11 rebounds in addition to three steals and three blocks. Fields had a game-high 24 points and nine rebounds while Williamson added 16 points. Williamson also had the difficult task of guarding shifty Yellow Jackets guard Elisha Davis who had 10 points and nine rebounds.

“She’s a really great player with a lot of skills,” Williamson said. “I was just trying to stay in front of her. … Sometimes she got by me but my teammates were there for the help.”

The game also provided a glimpse into the future of the Pacific 12 conference with four players signed to scholarship offers, composed of Williamson (Washington State), Fields (UCLA) Adams (USC) and Davis (Arizona State).

Fields, whose legal guardians are Lakers coach Mike Brown and his wife Carolyn, transferred from a Virginia school to Mater Dei before the beginning of the season and was not cleared until Dec. 15, 2011. On Saturday she displayed the skill-set that garnered her Gatorade State Player of the Year honors.

“Immediately I felt I was at home, everyone was just so loving and accepting,” Fields said. “I just did my role, coach told me what it was, obviously to score.”

With the win Kiernan won his state girls coaching record sixth state championship: the past three with Mater Dei and three during the 2000s decade with Troy of Fullerton.

“They’re all different,” Kiernan said. “They’re like your kids – you love them all in different ways, one no more than the other.”

Reach John Parker at johnparker2008@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @john_a_parker.