Girls’ basketball: It’s showdown time with Mater Dei vs. Chaminade

Of all the championship basketball games this week, the one with the most national stars could be Saturday’s 7:30 p.m. Southern Section Open Division girls’ final between Santa Ana Mater Dei and West Hills Chaminade at Azusa Pacific.

Mater Dei’s Katie Lou Samuelson is a McDonald’s All-American. Chaminade’s Valerie Higgins and Leaonna Odom are two of the best juniors in the nation.

The only time these two teams met, Chaminade won, 60-59, back in early December. It’s the only loss all season for Mater Dei (28-1).

Chaminade’s full-court press caused the Monarchs all kinds of problems, but they have worked on that.


Mater Dei Coach Kevin Kiernan is looking for ways to deal with Higgins and Odom. Odom used to play for the Monarchs until transferring to Chaminade this season.

“They’re just capable of taking it to another gear,” he said.

In Samuelson, averaging 29.4 points, Mater Dei has the best offensive player in the nation. The Connecticut-bound Samuelson will try to draw lots of defenders and create opportunites for teammates.