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Mater Dei Turns Over Lead, Loses Semifinal

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Mater Dei, trying to reach the Southern Section title game for the first time since 1996, had an 11-point lead going into the fourth quarter of Wednesday’s game against Moreno Valley.

They had just scored 28 points in the third quarter, and all that was left was the celebration.

But Moreno Valley scored 14 consecutive points in the fourth quarter as part of a 22-2 run and won the Division I-A semifinal, 61-56, at Santa Ana College.

The Vikings (25-5) will play their first championship game at 8:15 p.m. Friday at the Pyramid against San Clemente (23-8). Mater Dei finished 22-6.

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“We thought we had it made, we backed down, and we didn’t put the ball in the hoop,” said Mater Dei guard Maile Shimoda, who scored 16 points and was instrumental in the Monarchs getting past Moreno Valley’s quicker, pressure defense.

The game was one of streaks.

Mater Dei held a 22-16 lead, but Moreno Valley scored the final 10 points of the first half, including a basket with one second left after a steal, for a 26-22 lead.

The Monarchs scored the first six points of the third quarter, Moreno Valley the next six. Then, in what appeared to be the game’s decisive turn, Mater Dei went on a 22-2 run before Andrea Bills (18 points, 18 rebounds) made two free throws with one second left in the third quarter that cut Mater Dei’s 13-point lead to 50-39. Moreno Valley committed eight turnovers during the run.

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But, Mater Dei’s Lindsay Pavlik said, “We took a breath, they cut into our lead, and we didn’t know what to do.”

The Vikings scored the first six points of the fourth quarter, Bills scoring five of them. Mater Dei committed nine fourth-quarter turnovers.

“The team started to panic,” Pavlik said. “We didn’t wait to work the ball, we took the first shot. We were rushing for no reason. The rushing led to turnovers, and they made their shots.”

Those rushed shots played a crucial role because Pavlik had scored 21 points in the first three quarters on eight of 14 shooting from the field. She didn’t get a single shot in the fourth quarter.

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“I felt like I was on,” said Pavlik, a 6-foot junior who had 15 rebounds. “But nothing came in and I couldn’t do anything but try to rebound. And I couldn’t get in good position because we shot so quickly.”

Five of Pavlik’s 10 rebounds through three quarters were offensive; she had none in the fourth.

Mater Dei, which had made 20 of 42 shots through three quarters, was only two for 13 in the fourth, and one of those was Shimoda’s three-pointer with eight seconds left and the Monarchs trailing, 59-52.

Leading, 56-52, Moreno Valley made five of six free-throws in the final 32 seconds.

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“In the fourth quarter, we played nervous,” Mater Dei Coach Ollie Martin said. “If we continue to score, we can continue to press. If you don’t score, you can’t press.”

Moreno Valley (22 turnovers) committed 11 turnovers in the third quarter, three in the fourth. Mater Dei committed a season-high 24 turnovers against the Vikings’ pressure.


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