Tournament of Champions : Mater Dei Tops Santa Monica in Controversial Finish, 53-52

Times Staff Writer

The magic that saved Santa Monica High School Friday night in the semifinals didn't materialize Saturday night as Carrick DeHart and Keith Harris both missed shots in the final eight seconds, and Santa Ana Mater Dei escaped with a 53-52 win in the championship game of the Tournament of Champions at Cal Poly Pomona.

Harris, playing with an injured right shoulder, drove the baseline and missed a short shot, but he was fouled. Santa Monica then got the in-bounds pass to DeHart, whose 40-footer at the buzzer had beaten Capistrano Valley to send Santa Monica into the final. This time, his jumper from 16 feet bounced off the rim, and Harris grabbed it and started to go up.

One of the referees blew his whistle and appeared set to call a foul that would have put Harris at the free-throw line. But he then ruled no foul, saying that time had run out.

Mater Dei immediately celebrated. Santa Monica protested.

"We had our shots, but of course, they didn't go down," Santa Monica Coach Cliff Hunter said.

DeHart was more direct, saying: "They (the referees) wanted an Orange County team to win, so they gave it to them (Mater Dei). I looked at the clock when Keith was fouled, and there was one second left. The whistle blew, but they didn't stop the clock."

The victory in the area's most prestigious prep tournament was the third straight for Mater Dei (9-0). The Monarchs were led by Stuart Thomas, the Most Valuable Player, who made 10 of 17 shots and all eight of his free throws for 28 points.

Santa Monica (6-2) got 16 points from Harris, 14 from DeHart, who made the all-tournament team, and 10 from Kelvin Harris.

Nathan Call and Shawn Reed of Capistrano Valley, Chris Mills of Fairfax and Ricky Butler of Huntingtin Beach Ocean View were also all-tournament selections.

Capistrano Valley 59, Fairfax 56 (third place)--Nathan Call hit 8 of 11 shots for 19 points to go with 6 assists, and Shawn Reed added 16 points for Capistrano Valley (8-1). Fairfax (6-2) shot only 37%. Chris Mills led the Lions with 22 points, 12 rebounds and 3 blocked shots.

Ocean View 50, Inglewood 39 (fifth place)--Ocean View, playing without starting guard Blaine DeBrouwer for the second straight game because Coach Jim Harris did not allow him to suit up after a confrontation with a referee earlier in the tournament, came back to win after trailing at halftime, 18-17. The Seahawks (9-1) had three players in double figures--Ricky Butler (23), Tony Panzica (14) and Desi Hazely (12). Inglewood (4-5) was led by Eric Jordan with 13 points.

Verbum Dei 60, Long Beach St. Anthony 52 (consolation)--Verbum Dei, which got 22 points from Kevin Williams and 12 from David Jones, shot 64% in the second half to raise its record to 6-1. James Anderson and Jaime Cardriche scored 14 points apiece to pace St. Anthony (5-4).

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