Capistrano Valley vs. Mater Dei, 9 p.m.

RECORDS--Capistrano Valley (30-3), Mater Dei (33-1)

CAPISTRANO VALLEY--How do you figure the sixth-seeded Cougars. They lose their leading scorer, Tom Airey, who broke his foot in the Southern Section I-AA championship game against Lynwood. Then they come back and defeat Poway and Westchester to reach the regional final. Capistrano Valley has counted heavily on the play of guard Aaron Rhoades, who has averaged 16 points in the regionals, 10 above his season average, and Jeff Rosales, once a seldom-used forward who has scored eight and 11 points in his past two games. The championship game will be Capistrano Valley's third meeting with Mater Dei this season. The Cougars lost to the Monarchs, 69-55, in the Tournament of Champions semifinals, and, 68-59, in a nonleague game. Mater Dei, one of the state's best defensive teams, has been particularly tough on defense lately. The Monarchs held Fremont to 16 points in the first half of the regional semifinals. "Mater Dei's defense is always a concern," Capistrano Valley Coach Mark Thornton said. "But Westchester is a good defensive team, and we handled that."

MATER DEI--The top-seeded Monarchs were back to form Thursday against Fremont after a nearly losing to Lynwood on Tuesday. Reggie Geary is playing as well as he has during his high school career. He's averaging 18 points in the past four games. His defensive game has also been turned up a notch. The improved inside play of Marmet Williams has also been a factor. He is averaging 17 points in the past three games. What really makes the Monarchs tough, though, is their depth. They keep throwing guys out there, sometimes going five deep into their bench. Opponents get worn out and then make mistakes. This is the fifth regional for Mater Dei, which will try to reach its third State title game.

KEY TO THE GAME--Capistrano Valley must maintain the offensive balance it has while Airey has been out of the lineup.

CONSENSUS--It's difficult to beat a good team like Capistrano Valley three times in one season. But without Airey, the Cougars probably won't get any revenge on Mater Dei. The Monarchs by 12.

Starting Lineups

CAPISTRANO VALLEY

P Name Ht. Avg. G Corey Kost 6-3 8.3 G David Sedgwick 6-2 6.3 C Jeremy Garrett 6-8 8.6 F Steve Ransom 6-6 9.3 F Aaron Rhoades 6-3 6.4

Coach: Mark Thornton

MATER DEI

P Name Ht. Avg. G Kamran Sufi 5-10 4.8 G Reggie Geary 6-3 15.2 C Terence Wilborn 6-6 8.8 F Marmet Williams 6-5 12.9 F Ray Jackson 6-3 5.8

Coach: Gary McKnight

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