Division I Boys
Where--Cox Arena, San Diego State, 8 tonight
Mater Dei (33-3)--This is the classic little team that could. Despite injuries and illnesses to key players, somehow, the Southern Section Division I-A champions figure out a way to win. “I’m just really proud of this bunch,” Coach Gary McKnight said. “They continue to amaze me.” A lot of that success has to do with Steve Scoggin, a 6-foot junior guard who rallied the Monarchs in the second half of a 66-64 victory over Los Angeles Manual Arts with his long-range shooting. But the key for the Monarchs might be 6-10 sophomore center Jamal Sampson, who missed most of the season with leg, foot and hand injuries. Despite spending most of Thursday night’s game on the bench in foul trouble, Sampson had several spectacular rebounds and dunks against Manual Arts. With each game, Sampson, who transferred from Westchester, seems to be settling in better with his teammates. Derrick Mansell, who had an off night against Manual Arts, offensively, could provide a spark if his shots go in.
Lakewood Artesia (32-2)--The status of McDonald’s All-American swingman Jason Kapono is uncertain after he sprained his left ankle in Thursday’s 73-46 victory over Glendora. He left the game in the third quarter. Without Kapono, who has not settled on his college plans, the two-time defending section Division I-AA champions will rely on super sophomores Jack Martinez, a 6-8 center who scored 20 points and had five blocked shots Thursday, and Amaury Fernandez, a 6-9 forward who scored 21 points and had nine rebounds. They’ll also need a bigger offensive output from senior point guard Andre Hazel. Aaron Hamilton, a 6-7 senior who averages 4.2 points and 4.2 rebounds, could come off the bench to start. Coach Wayne Merino is a graduate of Mater Dei, has family members who still attend Monarch games and is a disciple of McKnight when it comes to coaching techniques. Key to the game--Each team is athletic and well-coached, but if Kapono can’t play or is hobbled, Mater Dei should win. But the Monarchs need Sampson to stay out of foul trouble, Scoggin to make his baskets from the beginning and Mansell to score on drives.
(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)
P Name Ht. Avg. F Mike Bayer 6-7 14.2 F Derrick Mansell 6-2 8.7 C Jamal Sampson 6-10 4.4 G Imran Sufi 5-10 3.0 G Steve Scoggin 6-0 15.0
Coach: Gary McKnight
P Name Ht. Avg. F Amaury Fernandez 6-9 16.2 F Ryan Reyes 6-2 4.4 C Jack Martinez 6-8 15.9 G Jason Kapono 6-8 24.3 G Andre Hazel 5-10 8.2
Coach: Wayne Merino