1. Mater Dei’s 67-65 victory over Price on Saturday in the Nike Extravaganza bodes really well for the Monarchs (22-2). They beat one of the outstanding teams around, and continue to perform really well despite nine of their top 10 players being underclassmen.If they’re going to win a Southern Section or state title, Xavier Johnson, Katin Reinhardt & Co., are going to have to win some close games.
2. Orange Lutheran (19-6) continues to show that it’s a team that needs to be watched. Although it has six losses, OLu has not lost to a team in Orange County, and it’s the only county team with a victory over Mater Dei. At the Nike Extravaganza, Gabe York and James Douglas led the Lancers to a 66-63 overtime victory over Westchester. Any day, any time, any victory over Westchester (20-6) is a great victory. How many teams can claim victories over Mater Dei and Westchester in the same year? Not many.
3. You had to feel that Mission Viejo had a tenuous hold on perfection. The Diablos had won 23 in a row before losing to Tesoro, 51-49, on Friday when Dusty Baker sank a pair of free throws with nine seconds remaining. However, eight of Mission’s victories—one third of its games—had been decided by five points or fewer, and another was decided by six points. At a time when the Diablos should probably be exerting more dominance over teams while heading toward the playoffs, four of their previous five games had been determined by five points; the exception was an emotional 59-39 nonleague win over Aliso Niguel (22-2). Mission is the only team to have beaten the Wolverines. What does it mean? There’s still work to do. But the loss will probably help in the long run, providing further proof that in basketball, there’s more to winning than just showing up.
4. Mary Mulligan-Crapo, who has for the last two decades been the gold standard for female coaches in girls’ basketball in Orange County, if not the Southern Section, recorded her 500th career victory last week with a 52-33 victory in her team’s final regular-season home game. It has been a down year for the Tritons (13-12), but it was a deserving moment for the coach who announced her retirement at the end of this, her 25th season. A San Clemente alumnus, the Tritons have won 13 league titles and five section championships under her guidance.
5. The girls’ version of the Nike Extravaganza produced some interesting results. Brea Olinda, ranked No. 1 in the nation, got 19 points from Justine Hartman and defeated the defending Nevada state champion, Las Vegas Bishop Gorman, 61-20. Mater Dei, ranked No. 3 in the nation, came from a 28-25 halftime deficit to beat La Jolla Country Day, 68-54, behind Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis’ 28 points. But the real story of the girls’ event belonged to Orange Lutheran (19-6), which upset Edison, 58-51, despite 17 points apiece by sisters Bonnie and Karlie Samuelson. Edison (22-3), generally regarded as the best OC team outside of Brea and Mater, was shut out for the last 86 seconds after pulling to within three points. It was a stellar victory by OLu, which got 24 points from Natalie Luzar.