State basketball: Div. I girls, Mater Dei vs. Berkeley


At Power Balance Pavilion, Sacramento

Matchup: Santa Ana Mater Dei (33-1) vs. Berkeley (28-1), Saturday, 6 p.m.

How they got here: The title game of the CIF Division I playoffs will not only decide the state champion, but perhaps the national champion. There is not a high school national championship tournament, but several outlets, including ESPN Rise, have Mater Dei ranked No. 1 in the nation. ESPN Rise has Berkeley ranked No. 34 in the nation and MaxPreps has the Yellowjackets No. 8 in the nation. Each team has only one loss. Berkeley has a 24-game winning streak dating to Dec. 29. Carondelet is the only team to beat Berkeley, 64-62. Berkeley has sinced avenged that loss, twice. The latest was in the championship game of the Northern California Regional, 68-57. Mater Dei has won 25 games in a row. The Monarchs only loss came against Long Beach Poly, 61-56, on Dec. 21. Mater Dei beat Canyon Springs, 59-44, in the Southern California Regional championship game to reach the state final.

Key players: Berkeley is led by 6-foot-3 forward Khristina Hunter. She is headed to San Diego State next year and is part of a trio of players from Berkeley who will be playing for NCAA Division I programs. Chairese Culberson is averaging 13.4 points and 12.7 rebounds per game and will be joining Hunter at San Diego State. Brittany Boyd is the team’s leading scorer at 17.4 points per game and is going to Cal. Junior Elisha Davis leads the team with 56 3-pointers and is shooting 33 percent from 3-point territory.

Mater Dei has a pair of NCAA Division I players on its roster. Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, the Gatorade national girls high school player of the year, is headed to Connecticutt. She scored 23 points, 13 in the fourth quarter, in her team’s win over Canyon Springs in the Southern California Regional final. Teammate Alexyz Vaioletama, who will play at USC, scored 17 points against Canyon Springs.

What to expect: Mater Dei already knocked off nationally ranked Brea Olinda (No. 5 by ESPN Rise) and Monarch from Louisville, Colo., (No. 29 by ESPN Rise). The only setback was to nationally ranked Long Beach Poly (No. 12 by ESPN Rise). Mater Dei has repeatedly shown it can beat the top teams, not only in the state, but in the country. Berkeley is good, but Mater Dei has beaten great teams soundly all season.