Mater Dei Stuns Redondo, 43-39

Times Staff Writer

In a dramatic turnaround to what had looked like a one-sided affair, third-seeded Santa Ana Mater Dei upset top-seeded Redondo, 43-39, Friday in the Southern Section Division II-A girls' basketball championship game by overcoming a 14-point deficit with two minutes left in the third quarter.

Behind the play of sophomore Jen Rogers, who scored 16 consecutive points to fuel the comeback, the Monarchs (21-6) won their second title. Rogers finished with 26 points, including five three-point baskets.

Redondo (25-5), which won section titles in 2000 and 2002, had won 17 in a row and finished the regular season ranked No. 4 in the Southland by The Times. Mater Dei (21-6), which won a title in 1995, was ranked No. 14.

Trailing, 35-21, with 1:53 left in the third quarter, the Monarchs rallied as Rogers made a three-point play and a 12-foot jumper before beating the third-quarter buzzer with a three-pointer on an inbounds play.

The momentum carried over into the fourth quarter. Rogers added another three-point basket in the first minute of the fourth quarter -- her 16th consecutive point for the Monarchs -- had an assist on Christina Lopez's backdoor layup, made two free throws, and assisted on Chanel Foster's layup to give Mater Dei a 38-37 lead with 2:06 remaining.

Those were Rogers' only assists of the game. Foster finished with 10 points.

"I've never had a night quite like that," Rogers said. "I didn't see anything except for the basket. I didn't know what was going on, whatever I threw up went in."

Rogers made nine of 20 shots, but the rest of her team made only six of 28. In an amazing contrast, Redondo shot 59.3% from the field. The Sea Hawks made 16 of 27 for the game, but took 21 fewer shots than Mater Dei. They also committed 25 turnovers to Mater Dei's nine.

It's the second consecutive comeback for Mater Dei. The Monarchs trailed second-seeded Brea Olinda in the semifinals, 20-6, in the second quarter before forging a 51-43 victory.

Redondo was led by 6-3 Brittany Grice, who had 13 points, and Krisztina Fuleki with 10. Chloe Grimm, a 6-2 forward, had only four points, half her average, against the smaller Monarchs.

Lynwood 69, Long Beach Poly 63 -- The Jackrabbits committed too many turnovers, 22, to knock off the state's top-ranked team in the Division I-AA final, and in the process had its 24-game winning streak snapped.

Lynwood, the defending Division I state champion, virtually assured itself the No. 1 seeding in the Southern California regionals of the state playoffs that begin Tuesday.

Lynwood (28-1) had a 64-47 lead with 3:40 remaining before Poly made an 11-0 run to pull to within 64-58. Lynwood made five of eight free throws in the last 57 seconds and the Jackrabbits (28-3) got no closer than six points, with Judith Smith sinking a runner at the buzzer for the final margin.

The victory gave Lynwood its sixth section championship and second in a row.

Sade Wiley-Gatewood led Lynwood with 20 points and Kameca Simmons and LaJoyce King each had 13. Natasha Gray led Poly with 19 points, and Smith had 18.

Lynwood led, 13-12, with 1:10 left in the first quarter before going on a 12-0 run. Trailing, 24-12, Poly answered, pulling to within 24-20 with 3:52 left in the second quarter, but the Jackrabbits made only two free throws the rest of the half and Lynwood stretched its lead to 33-24.

L.A. Marlborough 42, Santa Fe Springs St. Paul 36 -- Third-seeded Marlborough (24-5) made seven of 11 shots in the third quarter to take a 27-22 advantage en route to the Division IV-AA championship, its first in girls' basketball.

Emily Tay scored 14 and Shaina Zaidi added 10, all in the second half, for Marlborough.

St. Paul's Crystal Erwin, who averaged 21.8 points and 16 rebounds, had seven rebounds and scored eight of her 10 points in the fourth quarter. Her three-point play with 1:56 remaining drew top-seeded St. Paul (21-10) to within 38-36 with 1:56 left.

Tay answered with a jump shot and Alexandra Chen added two free throws for Marlborough.

Marlborough trailed, 14-7, when Erwin left the floor with three fouls in the first half, but cut the deficit to 16-13 by halftime.

Samantha Gray also scored 10 for St. Paul, and 6-3 freshman Abi Olajuwon scored nine for Marlborough.

Ojai Thacher 54, Riverside La Sierra 50 -- Size and offensive balance were enough to carry the unseeded Toads (17-3) to the Division V-AA title, their first.

They hsd a 26-9 rebounding advantage over fourth-seeded La Sierra (17-9) and got 20 points from 6-1 Steffi Rauner, 11 from 6-2 Whitney Livermore and 17 points from their only senior, guard Annie Wheatley.

Thacher had a 48-46 lead with 1:08 to go, got two free throws from Wheatley and only the fourth three-point field goal of the season from Becky Horton with 45 seconds remaining.

Joial Griffith scored 25 for La Sierra, including 11 of its 12 fourth-quarter points.

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