Taking advantage of 7-foot center Jamal Sampson’s absence because of the flu, Louisville Ballard defeated Mater Dei, 71-67, to win the Millennium Championship at the Beach Ball Classic in Myrtle Beach, S.C., on Saturday.
Ballard (13-0) built a 17-point first-half lead, but the Monarchs, ranked No. 1 in Orange County, rallied to take a three-point advantage with 5 minutes 34 seconds remaining. But the Bruins hit five foul shots in the stretch to secure the victory.
Brandon Bender scored 24 points for Ballard, which won its second tournament title this season. The Monarchs (12-2) lost their second championship game in as many weeks.
“I would have liked to see Bender go up against the 7-footer,” said Mater Dei Coach Gary McKnight. “But unfortunately we didn’t have him. That’s the way it goes.”
Bender, a cousin of Indiana Pacer Jonathan Bender, made 11 of 15 shot attempts and had 17 rebounds, one block and a steal.
The Monarchs closed the gap to 38-29 at the half and tied the score, 43-43, on Travis Gabler’s three-pointer late in the third quarter. Mater Dei took a 51-47 advantage late in the quarter. Five lead changes later, the score was tied, 59-59, with 4:04 remaining.
Ricky Porter had 28 points and Mike Strawberry had 15 for Mater Dei.