It was a different sport, different players and a different result for Mater Dei Thursday night against Concord De La Salle in the Nike National Prep Basketball Classic.
The Monarchs’ football team was humiliated by De La Salle in September, but the basketball team didn’t let it happen again. Mater Dei trailed by four points with five minutes left, but went on a 16-2 run to close the game and won going away, 64-54, before 2,500 at Torrey Pines High.
“They were talking about how their football team beat ours,” Mater Dei center Jamal Sampson said. “That got us really fired up.”
No one seemed more fired up than Sampson, who scored 12 of his 14 points in the second half after he sat out much of the second quarter with two fouls.
“I just decided I was going to get fouled or score every time I touched it,” said Sampson, who also had a game-high 11 rebounds and four blocks.
De La Salle (5-1) also had problems containing guard Cedric Bozeman, who scored a game-high 22 points and made all 14 of his free throws. Bozeman drew his motivation from another source.
“I didn’t care about the football team,” he said. “This is basketball. That’s football. This was for us.”
But until Mater Dei’s late run, it appeared as though the result was going to be the same as it was on the football field. De La Salle outhustled, outsmarted and outshot Mater Dei for the first three quarters.
Junior guard Joe See and senior forward Chris Schlatter (15 points, three three-pointers) gave Mater Dei (14-1) the most trouble. See’s pull-up jumper from 12 feet ended a 7-0 De La Salle spurt and gave the Spartans a 41-31 lead with six minutes left in the third quarter.
But it was See’s last basket of the night. He finished with 16 points, but he missed his last six shots, including two three-pointers in the closing minutes.
“We just ran out of gas,” De La Salle Coach Frank Allocco said. “They’re bigger physically and it showed at the end.”
Sampson, 6-foot-11, had his way with Conor Famulener (6-6) and Schlatter (6-7). His layup gave Mater Dei a 54-52 lead with 3:35 left and his dunk off a perfect lob from Bozeman gave the Monarchs a 56-54 lead with 1:51 remaining.
“Jamal just changes the complexion of the game when he’s playing well,” Mater Dei Coach Gary McKnight said. “He does so many things well.”
After Sampson’s dunk, Bozeman scored the next six points from the free-throw line. The final margin was 10, but Bozeman knew the game was much tougher than that.
“We hadn’t practiced in two weeks and we weren’t verbal at all,” said Bozeman, who had eight assists and three rebounds. “Once we started talking and started hustling, we picked it up. They’re a good team.”
McKnight said he already knew that.
“They won 30 games last year, they went to the state semifinals and they had everybody back from that team,” he said. “They all shoot it very well. I’m just proud of the way we came back.”
McKnight was also proud of guard Steve Scoggin, who had a three-for-13 shooting night but shut down See in the fourth quarter.