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Orange Holiday Tournament : Saddleback Defeats Mater Dei Again to Take Home Title

Times Staff Writer

Mater Dei mystique? Don’t try selling that notion to Saddleback High School.

Saddleback handed Mater Dei its second loss of the season, beating the Monarchs, 57-53, Friday night in the championship game of the 24th Orange Holiday tournament in the Hutton Sports Center at Chapman College.

Saddleback (13-1) beat the Monarchs at their own game: Defense. Saddleback pressured Mater Dei into numerous turnovers and forced the Monarchs to take low-percentage shots. And the Roadrunners did it without going into an overtime period.

It was the fourth time the schools have met in the past 4 years and the last three meetings have gone into overtime. Saddleback had beaten Mater Dei, 59-56, in double overtime this season to win the Newport-Mesa tournament title.

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“If nothing else, we proved the skeptics wrong,” said Pat Quinn, Saddleback coach. “We deserve to be the No. 1 team in Orange County.

“We proved to ourselves that we can play with anybody. We may have started enjoying this one a little early and made it closer than we should have, but it was a great win.”

Saddleback held a 53-43 lead with 1:09 remaning but the Roadrunners nearly self-destructed. Mater Dei (14-2) utilized some fine free throw shooting to get back into the game, but reserve Jason Demoss finally settled the outcome with a pair of free throws with only 2 seconds remaining.

The victory ended Mater Dei’s reign in the 16-team tournament. Mater Dei had won the tournament title five times in the past 6 years, declining to attend last year. The loss was only the third by Mater Dei to a county team in the 7-year reign of Coach Gary McKnight, with 2 losses coming to Saddleback and another to Capistrano Valley.

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Center Malru Dottin led Saddleback with 15 points and was named the tournament’s most valuable player, but it was the play of guard Craig Marshall that proved to be the difference. Marshall limited Mater Dei’s Dylan Rigdon to a single field goal and also scored 14 points.

Saddleback took its first lead, 9-8, with 2:28 remaining in the first quarter on a jump shot by Dottin and led the remainder of the game.

Saddleback extended its lead to 19-10 following a 15-foot jump shot by guard Sean Simon, but Mater Dei managed to cut the deficit to 4 points at halftime.

Forward Mike Morris made a 3-point shot and then hit an 18-foot jump to help the Monarchs get back into the game. Mater Dei made only 6 of 15 shots in the first half and had an uncharacteristic 10 turnovers, but somehow trailed by only 4 points, 26-22, at the half.

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Dottin was a force inside for Saddleback in the opening half, scoring 8 points and the Roadrunners enjoyed a 16-6 rebounding advantage.

In the third-place game:

Capistrano Valley 85, Fountain Valley 70--Guard Bill Mazurie didn’t start for the first time this season, but he scored 25 points to lead Capistrano Valley (10-4).

Capistrano Valley opened an 18-5 lead in the first quarter, but Fountain Valley (10-2) rallied and eventually tied the Cougars, 43-43, with 4:40 remaining in the third quarter after a 3-point shot by reserve Tim Hellbusch.

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Capistrano Valley forward Scott McCorkle got the Cougars back on track, scoring 10 points in the third quarter and finished with 21 points.

Center Mike Merli led Fountain Valley with 18 points.

In the consolation championship:

Long Beach Wilson 62, Orange Lutheran 60 (2 OTs)--Center Josh Levine made 2 free throws with 1:40 remaining in the second overtime as Wilson (11-4) won the consolation championship. Levine’s free throws were the only points scored in the 3-minute overtime period. Orange Lutheran (8-3) had an opportunity to tie the score, but forward Daryl Cole’s off-balance jump shot with 3 seconds remaining hit the heel of the rim. Cole scored 26 points, including 16 points in the third quarter when the Lancers built a 10-point lead.

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In other consolation games:

El Toro 60, Dominguez 42--Forward Khari Johnson scored 22 points and had 11 rebounds as El Toro (9-5) earned its sixth victory in its last 7 games. Sophomore guard Rob Johnson added 21 points as El Toro outscored Dominguez, 33-21, in the second half.


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