Schea Cotton's offensive show is not the only reason Mater Dei is the Southern Section Division I-A boys' champion.
Defense also wins games.
Monarch guard Kevin Augustine had to cover Shomario Richard, who brought a career 787 assists into The Pond Saturday--the fourth highest total in state history. Against Corona, Richard had 18 points and 17 assists in little more than half a game.
At the half against Augustine, Richard had one point, one assist and four turnovers. He finished with seven points and one assist.
The task of Mater Dei guard Mike Waugh was different--shut down William Porter, who averages 19 points and has the interest of Arizona State and Indiana as a junior.
Against Waugh, Porter was two for nine, and missed all seven attempts from three-point range in the first half. Porter, too, ended up with seven.
"Mike Waugh gets maybe one basket a game but does a great job on defense," Mater Dei Coach Gary McKnight said. "He did it again tonight."
No wonder Mater Dei was able to race to a 38-10 halftime lead, and cruise to an 83-33 victory. Two players the Monarchs feared the most were rendered useless.
"We didn't want Richard to control the game," Monarchs assistant coach Dave Taylor said. "He's capable of 30 points and 20 assists. We had to keep him in front of us, and make him take shots for himself and his teammates, not just create shots for them by penetration."
Augustine and Waugh said the defensive scheme worked exactly as the coaches planned.
"Shomario is a great player," said Augustine, who managed five points and three assists. "I was supposed to 'gap' him and cut off the passing lances, then not let him drive the baseline; force him to the top and try and drive through us. Or make him shoot and try and beat us that way."
Waugh did not want to take all the credit for stopping Porter. "It's kind of tough to shoot in an arena and they were here for the first time," he said. "Once I saw him miss his first couple of shots, then I just played him to drive to the basket."
As mesmerized as the Nobles were by Cotton's exploits, they were demoralized by Augustine and Waugh, not to mention the rest of the Monarch defense, which caused 19 turnovers, had 15 steals and blocked five shots.
"I can't believe the job they did to us on defense," Nogales Coach Robert Withers said. "No one has played us like that. Their defense allowed them to take the time and find Schea on offense."
Taylor just smiled at the assessment.
"No question I'd like to think most of it was our defense. But this is a big arena and it was their first time here. We played great team defense, but Kevin and Mike were the front-line guys."
Does that mean Mater Dei can enjoy their achievement?
"We'll enjoy it tonight," Augustine said. "But now comes the State tournament. On Tuesday we'll be getting ready again."