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BOYS’ BASKETBALL / ORANGE HOLIDAY CLASSIC : Mater Dei Overtakes the Tillers in Overtime

TIMES STAFF WRITER

It’s a fact Mater Dei is not the dominant team it was last season in Orange County. It is also a fact it is still the team to beat in the county.

The top-ranked Monarchs received another strong challenge from third-ranked Tustin on Saturday in the championship game of the 31st Orange Holiday Classic boys’ tournament. The Tillers had the Monarchs on the ropes but could not finish them off, and wound up losing in overtime, 75-65.

Mater Dei (14-1) turned back the Tillers (13-3) thanks to 39 points from guard Kevin Augustine, who was playing in his first tournament game while recovering from the flu.

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Augustine made 13 of 22 attempts from the floor (three of six from three-point range), 10 of 17 from the free-throw line, and forced the overtime by hitting a three-pointer with three seconds left to tie the score, 59-59.

He finished with a flourish, making eight of Mater Dei’s 16 points in overtime. “He hadn’t been on the court for eight days,” Mater Dei Coach Gary McKnight said. “He was out there playing on pure guts.”

It was the ninth tournament title won by the Monarchs, and their first since 1993.

It also was one of their toughest. Tustin, getting 23 points and 15 rebounds from forward David Lalazarian, came out flying.

By shooting 14 of 25 in the first half, Tustin led by as much as 22-8 and was ahead at halftime, 32-19.

Tustin would lead by as many as 12 in the second half, but had foul problems. Guards Ryan Earl, Rahiem Hobbs and forward Matt Kraus, who scored 15 points, fouled out.

The Tillers could only make two field goals and a free throw in overtime.

“I think our depth got to them at the end,” McKnight said.

In other games:

Esperanza 52, Orange 45--Matt Munson and Josh Greer each scored 14 points for Esperanza (13-2) in the third-place game. Matt Walker scored 11 points for Orange (6-6).

Laguna Hills 67, Loara 46--Mike Scaglione had 18 points and Matt Houser added 17 as Laguna Hills (10-5) won the consolation championship. Neil Thomas had 14 points for Loara (8-6).


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