For a program that measures itself by championships, the season ended in heartbreak for Santa Ana Mater Dei in the CIF Open Division state final Saturday night at Haas Pavilion in Berkeley.
With UConn-bound forward Katie Lou Samuelson in foul trouble throughout the second half, the Monarchs turned to Andee Velasco and Ally Rosenblum. Both scored 20 points but Stockton St. Mary's dominated the fourth quarter to win 76-69 and claim its eighth state title.
"The word I use to describe St. Mary's is relentless," Mater Dei Coach Kevin Kiernan said. "After every miss or make they pushed the ball on us, they kept coming. We shot 50 percent and still lost."
Kat Tudor's three-pointer with 1:15 remaining gave St. Mary's a 73-67 lead, but Ally Rosenblum's layup drew Mater Dei (31-3) within four with 58.7 seconds left. St. Mary's (34-1) turned the ball over on its next possession but Velasco and Katie Lou Samuelson missed three-point shots and the Monarchs got no closer.
Samuelson finished with 19 points and nine rebounds but was assessed her fourth personal foul with 0.9 seconds left in the third quarter.
"I can't help my team on the bench," Samuelson said. "I'm disappointed in my play. I know for a fact that we all really wanted it, but our defense as a whole wasn't good and we didn't get stops when we needed them. No excuses -- they're an awesome team."
St. Mary's won its 29th straight game from behind the arc, making 12 of 27 three-point shots. Mi'Cole Cayton led the way with 21 points and Aquira DeCosta added 15. Velasco and Tudor each made four three-pointers.
Velasco scored 15 points in the first half to stake Mater Dei to a 38-33 lead. Samuelson had nine first-half points but was charged with her third personal foul with 1:43 left in the second quarter. The Monarchs were denied their fifth state title.
-- Steve Galluzzo