SACRAMENTO – Banged up and slow out of the gate, the Mater Dei girls' basketball team had to earn the CIF Division I championship against Berkeley. Mater Dei coach Kevin Kiernan said his girls perhaps started the game too conservatively, playing not to lose rather than to win.
Behind 33 points from Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, the Monarchs beat Berkeley, 59-47, to win the CIF Division I championship at Power Balance Pavillion on Saturday night.
Mosqueda-Lewis was playing with an injured quad. Teammate Jordan Adams had a separated shoulder. Both players gutted out a game that saw Berkeley take a 12-point lead in the first quarter and make a furious comeback in the fourth quarter.
“They came out with a lot of energy and we weren’t ready for it,” Kiernan said.
Mater Dei, the top-ranked team in the nation by ESPN Rise, started slowly, but once the Monarchs warmed up, they were red hot. Berkeley jumped out to an 11-1 lead and was up 16-4 in the first quarter befor Mater Dei found its scoring stroke. The University of Connecticutt-bound Mosqueda-Lewis hit a 3-pointer at the end of the first quarter to cut Berkeley’s lead in half, 16-8.
It was the shot Mosqueda-Lewis needed to heat up.
“Nothing comes easy,” Berkeley coach Cheryl Draper said. “Once we started playing their pace, we lost our rhythm.”
Mosqueda-Lewis scored 12 points and hit two more 3-pointers in the second quarter as Mater Dei pulled ahead, 19-18, with 2:02 to play in the half. Mosqueda-Lewis scored eight of her team’s final 10 points of the quarter. Mater Dei outscored Berkeley, 16-4, in the second quarter to take a 24-20 lead at halftime.
Despite playing with an injured shoulder, Adams directed the Mater Dei offense through the comeback. She had six assists and eight rebounds to go with a modest six points.
“I was pretty much crawling off the court,” Adams said.
Adams said she started the game feeling pretty good, but she got hit in the first minute of the game and played through the pain the rest of the way.
“She’s really tough,” Kiernan said. “The next 31 minutes was like going to the dentist.”
Mater Dei built a 16-point lead after three quarters, 46-30. Berkeley mounted another rally, opening the fourth quarter with a 16-4 run. Berkeley cut the lead to four points, 50-46, but that was as close as the Yellowjackets would get.
Kiki Alofaituli scored 11 points and had seven rebounds for Mater Dei. Alexyz Vaioletama had 12 rebounds and eight points.
Elisha Davis hit four 3-pointers and scored a team-high 17 points for Berkeley. Chairese Culberson scored nine points and had 15 rebounds.