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Stanley Johnson and Mater Dei win another state title

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SACRAMENTO — It was only fitting that in Stanley Johnson's final game as a Mater Dei Monarch, he got to show off his skills in an NBA arena, because that's where he figures to be hanging out in a few years.

On Saturday night, he became the first player in California history to win four upper-division state championships, scoring 25 points and contributing eight assists in Santa Ana Mater Dei's 71-61 victory over Oakland Bishop O'Dowd in the Open Division final at Sleep Train Arena.

"They'll be talking about Stanley Johnson for years to come," said Mater Dei Coach Gary McKnight, who won his 11th state title in 32 seasons.

Mater Dei finished 35-0 and became the second team in Monarch history to go unbeaten, joining the 1985 squad.

"I love this team," McKnight said.

The season began with two likely starters deciding to transfer, forcing backups Isaiah Juarez and La'Vette Parker into starting roles. Each responded to the challenge, joining Johnson, 6-foot-10 sophomore M.J. Cage and junior guard Rex Pflueger in passing every test, including two overtime games during the playoffs.

Against Bishop O'Dowd (28-5), a zone defense helped neutralize 6-10 Ivan Rabb, who finished with 10 points and 16 rebounds.

Mater Dei led, 28-21, at halftime and was never threatened afterward. Cage, expected to become the next big-time Monarch star, had 16 points, eight rebounds and two blocks.

Paris Austin led the Dragons with 23 points.

The 6-7 Johnson, who has signed to play at Arizona, has had a memorable four-year run. As a freshman, he played on a team that defeated Concord De La Salle, 43-36, in the Division I final. As a sophomore, the Monarchs defeated Sacramento Sheldon, 66-48. Last season, it was a 50-45 Open Division victory over San Jose Mitty and Aaron Gordon.

Now he could be the replacement for Gordon at Arizona if Gordon decides to enter the NBA draft.

eric.sondheimer@latimes.com

com">eric.sondheimer@latimes.com

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