Long Beach, CA -The California State Southern Regional Open Divisions Finals was a game of rematches. Mater Dei boys and girls basketball teams both took the victory to advance next week to state finals. The Mater Dei girls basketball team defeated Chaminade 48-44. The Mater Dei boys basketball team defeated Fairfax, 51-40. This year regional games were played at Long Beach State inside the Pyramid.
The girls open division game was played first between CIF regular season championship matchup that was won by Chaminade by one point few weeks ago. Going into this game, Chaminade had already defeated Mater Dei twice this year. But the Monarchs had different plans for this third matchup. Senior wing player Katie Lou Samuelson took control of this game in the second half.
Katie Lou was integral part of 11-2 run in final two minutes finishing with 16 points and 9 rebounds. The Gatorade Player of the Year was fighting through tweaked ankle, shoulder bruise, and sore body from selling out her whole body for the right to play another week.
The game went back and forth with runs and flashes of greatness by both teams. Chaminade’s Valerie Higgins was pushing hard all night for her team before coming up short of the win. Valerie was all over the court before fouling out, from playing defense to driving the lane and making free throws for her team. It just wasn’t enough as the Mater Dei Monarchs reign today and advance to play St. Mary’s of Stockton in Berkeley for the state title.
The boys open division game had the same victor being Mater Dei as the Monarch rolled to its 51-40 win that earned the team a trip to Berkeley to face Bishop O’Dowd for the state championship. It was a rematch of a regular season that saw Fairfax dominate for a half and then go cold in the second half. The game showed some of the same results with Fairfax not getting the production from the team on the offensive end.
Mater Dei had a swag on court that permeated from senior guard Rex Pflueger, who led the game with 23 points. Whenever you looked up Rex was there with defense or hard stare for the camera. It was just one of the nights for him where three ball was falling, he was step quicker to the rim. “I told Rex before the game, ‘We need a big game out of you,’” Mater Dei coach Gary McKnight said. “And he answered the call.”
This win guaranteed at least a shot at the Drive for Five (State Championships). The gutsy performance by the Monarchs was also helped out by an ice cold night from all-star guard Lorne Currie who went scoreless on the night. Currie just had the nightmare of game that all superstars have that make them even better the next time they hit the court. Lindsey Drew the other Fairfax guard kept his team fighting for life finishing with a team high 17 points.
The Monarchs had three players score in double digits, and this will be same type of team game that will be need to claim the state title. Saturday, March 28 at UC Berkley campus at Haas Pavilion, the California state crowns will be won.