PREP BASKETBALL PLAYOFFS : Tempo Is Right for Jackson and Mater Dei : Division I boys: He scores 15 points in 41-28 victory over Fairfax. Monarchs meet Clovis West in final.


This was Shaun Jackson’s territory.

Mater Dei was a step from The Pond of Anaheim for its fourth consecutive appearance in the Southern Regional Division I final. Jackson could see that. Over his shoulder, chasing, he could see Los Angeles Fairfax.

“I just did what I had to do,” Jackson said.

Simple and to the point. Jackson scored 12 consecutive points for Mater Dei in its 41-28 victory Thursday at Cal State Fullerton. The good news didn’t end there for the Monarchs, as they will play Clovis West, not Los Angeles Crenshaw, Saturday.

A break? Crenshaw beat the Monarchs in the regional final the last two seasons on its way to State titles. But West beat Crenshaw, 67-62, Thursday.


The Monarchs, who have 23 consecutive victories, might have suffered the same fate but for Jackson, who scored 12 of his 15 points in the fourth quarter.

When Jair Fray (10 points) scored off a rebound, the Lions had a 20-18 lead midway through the third quarter.

“Maybe it was good for us to be behind,” Mater Dei Coach Gary McKnight said. “It could helps us.”

Sure, a fine lesson, as long as the Monarchs finished ahead in the end.

Mater Dei finally restored some order when Schea Cotton crashed the boards to follow a miss with a two-handed slam. It gave Mater Dei a 27-22 lead with six minutes left and brought McKnight to his feet, pumping his fist.

“That was a relief,” McKnight said.

To soothe McKnight’s worries more, the Monarchs put the ball into Jackson’s steady hands.

He took a lob from Cotton for a layup that started his run. Jackson scored on three consecutive power moves, all off passes by Cotton, normally the Monarchs’ go-to guy.

Jackson outscored the Lions, 12-3, during four-minute stretch.

“Shaun was really determined in the second half,” McKnight said. “You could see his frustration.”


You could see it in all the Monarchs, including their coach.

Mater Dei (34-1) smoked its last two opponents early, putting the game out of reach by halftime. But Fairfax would have none of that.

The Lions (24-7) used a walk-don’t-run offense and it brought Mater Dei’s free-wheeling ways to a dead stop.

“You have to give them credit,” McKnight said. ‘They did what they thought they had to do to win and it almost worked.”

The Lions massaged the tempo all night, making the Monarchs sweat it out on defense and rush on offense.

Cotton, who has averaged 25 points during the playoffs, was denied his normal freelance opportunities. He had a season-low 10 points. Guard Clay McKnight was getting few three-point shots and Jackson was surrounded inside.

The Monarchs had nowhere else to turn.

Fairfax snatched the tempo from the start, spreading the court and working the clock. The Monarchs, accustomed to a more upbeat style, were caught flat-footed.


The Lions led, 18-16, at halftime. They took as much as two minutes off the clock on possessions.

In the end, though, they couldn’t keep the ball out of Jackson’s hands.