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Rubidoux Has Trouble at Mater Dei

TIMES STAFF WRITER

There are more difficult tasks in sports, but facing a top-seeded team that is the defending champion in its own version of the Little Shop of Horrors, certainly is a challenge.

Rubidoux found out the hard way Friday night as Mater Dei dismantled the Falcons, 75-57, in a first-round game of the Division I-A playoffs in front of an overflow crowd of about 850 in that cracker box the Monarchs call The Pavilion.

Mater Dei (23-4), ranked atop the division after winning its eighth Angelus League title in the past nine years, toyed with the Falcons, allowing them an occasional rally but then surging ahead quickly to halt any possibility of an upset.

The Monarchs relied on J.J. Ballesteros--whose hand a few days ago was bitten by a spider--and on their trademark unrelenting man-to-man defense to win.

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Ballesteros was hot from both sides of the baseline and pumped in 10 points (and a free throw), shooting from about 15 feet, to carry the Monarchs to a 20-11 edge after one quarter. He added another nine points to finish with a game-high 20 points.

But equally crucial for Mater Dei was holding Rubidoux’s two main offensive threats, guards Ja-Mar Moore (20-point average) and Martin Figueroa (19.6), in check during the game. The Monarchs put sophomore Kamran Sufi on Moore and Reggie Geary on Figueroa. The Falcon pair was held to six points in the first half--all by Moore--as Mater Dei built a 38-24 halftime lead.

Moore managed to cut loose in the fourth quarter, scoring 10 of his 18 points--including a couple of three-pointers--but by then Mater Dei had the game well in hand. Figueroa made a free throw in the third quarter and did not score a basket until 1 minute 57 seconds remained in the game. He finished with seven points.

Mater Dei also got a excellent offensive performances from 6-foot-7 senior center Jason Janeski (12 points), sophomore guard DeJuan Matthews (12 points) and Geary (11 points).

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