For a double dose of basketball – there's nothing like stretching the value of a dollar these days – Mater Dei will play host to two games on Thursday, the nationally ranked girls at 6 p.m., and the nationally ranked boys at 7:30.
History says it will be a good night for the Monarchs.
The top-seeded boys, ranked No. 7 in the nation by ESPN Rise, take on Moreno Valley Rancho Verde for the second time in two weeks. Mater Dei (30-1) defeated Rancho Verde (27-4) in the Southern Section Division 1AA semifinals, 94-58. Keala King led the way with 23 points, Tyler Lamb had 21and Gary Franklin 18 as the Monarchs took a 32-14 lead in the first quarter and never looked back.
The second-seeded girls' team is ranked No. 4 in the nation and dominated the section Division 2A playoffs. They take on Villa Park (25-7), the runner-up to Brea Olinda in Division 2AA. Although they didn't play this season, Mater Dei (28-1) easily beat the Spartans in last year's playoffs, 74-24.
Brea, ranked No. 3 nationally, dominated Villa Park, 63-38. If Villa Park hopes to make amends against a different national-caliber opponent, it will have to shoot better than the 22 percent it did against Brea's oppressive defense. The problem is that Mater Dei 's defense can be just as tough: It beat Woodbridge, 71-29, in the section finals. Woodbridge beat Villa Park in December, 47-46.
Behind junior Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and sophomore Jordan Adams, two of the best players in the nation for their grade levels, Mater Dei has hardly been challenged in its 11 victories since losing to Brea, 47-43, on Jan. 18: Only four times have the Monarchs won by fewer than 29 points, and only once by fewer than 12 points, a 59-50 victory over Norco in the section quarterfinals.