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Mater Dei holds breath for Open Division crown

Monarchs win Open Division championship

It was a wild final 30 seconds Friday night night in the Southern Section Open Division championship basketball game. Chatsworth Sierra Canyon kept having opportunities to win the game, but the ball just wouldn't drop, and Santa Ana Mater Dei came away with a 55-53 victory before 3,105 at the Walter Pyramid in Long Beach.

Sierra Canyon was down by a point and had the ball with 23 seconds left. The Trailblazers executed perfectly, getting a layup attempt from Scottie Pippen Jr. but the ball didn't fall. Aidan Prukop was fouled with 8.7 seconds left and made one of two free throws.

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Again, Sierra Canyon had a chance to tie or win. Duane Washington Jr. got off a bank shot from the left side, which failed to drop. The Trailblazers got two more attempts on tips. It just wouldn't go through the net, and time ran out.

Mater Dei players raced to the middle of the court to celebrate the school's record 23rd section championship.

Mater Dei (23-6) also becomes the first school since Long Beach Poly in 1999 to win upper division championships in both football and basketball in the same season.

"We prevailed against an incredible Sierra Canyon team," guard Spencer Freedman said. "It's real special. It means everything. Last year we were in the same situation. We wanted to take advantage of this opportunity."

Freedman, a two-time Trinity League player of the year headed to Harvard, didn't need anyone to tell him that Mater Dei needed him to take charge.

The Monarchs had led Sierra Canyon most of the game, but then Michael Wang fouled out early in the fourth quarter with 14 points. Sierra Canyon had closed to within two points and was gaining momentum.

That's when Freedman made a three-pointer from NBA range, drove, scored and was fouled, completing a three-point play. The Monarchs opened a nine-point lead. Freedman finished with 13 points.

K.J. Martin, who came alive in the second half, led Sierra Canyon (23-4) with 18 points.

The Trailblazers failed to contain Mater Dei's most effective player, the 6-foot-10 Wang. He was left open and made two three-pointers as part of his 11 points in the first half.

Sierra Canyon was 0 for 8 from three-point range.

Follow Eric Sondheimer on Twitter @latsondheimer

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