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Mater Dei Wins Its 10th Holiday Classic

Even with 15 victories in its first 17 games, Mater Dei is not quite back to its usual dominance on the basketball court. But the Monarchs are getting closer.

A relentless defensive effort limited Santa Margarita to 15 second-half points and carried the Monarchs to a 57-44 triumph in the championship game of the Orange Holiday Classic.

It was the 10th Holiday Classic title won by Mater Dei, more than any other participant.

The 11-2 Eagles had a 29-27 halftime lead and had bottled up Mater Dei with an aggressive 2-3 matchup zone. But the Monarchs broke free to lead, 39-35, after three quarters, then scored the first five points of the fourth quarter to take command.

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Santa Margarita had one last run of its own--7-0--but was worn down by the Monarchs’ man-to-man defense that didn’t give the Eagles much room to get many open shots. Santa Margarita finished at 40.8% from the field and scored only one basket in the final 4:13.

Santa Margarita Coach Jerry DeBusk, whose team beat Mater Dei in the tournament final last season and went on to become state Division II champions, said the Monarchs sent a message with the win.

“They have all the ingredients,” DeBusk said. “They are talented, deep and [Coach] Gary [McKnight] has them back playing Mater Dei basketball again.

“In this county they are very much the best.”

McKnight was quicker with praise for Santa Margarita than he was for his team.

“I’m glad we won but I didn’t think we had a very good effort, especially in the first half,” McKnight said. “Santa Margarita’s effort was much better. And that 2-3 zone they play lets them match up to whatever you want to run on offense.”

Mater Dei senior center Mike Bayer, who led the Monarchs with 15 points and 10 rebounds, was named the tournament’s most valuable player.

Kelly Kramer and Spencer Gloger each had 15 points for Santa Margarita.

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