The roles are reversed this time. Or are they?
After Etiwanda toppled then-No. 1 seed Santa Ana Mater Dei in the CIF-SS Division 1AA championship game two weeks ago, the Eagles are the only team in tonight’s CIF State tournament SoCal Regional final with some 2013 hardware. Of course, Mater Dei is a two-time defending state champion and a program of such stature it’s difficult to ever call the Monarchs underdogs.
Entering tonight’s rematch between now No. 1 seed Etiwanda and No. 2 Mater Dei for the right to play the Northern California representative in the March 23 state championship game, both teams seem to only be gaining steam.
The loss in the CIF-SS championship game clearly appears to have lit a fire under Mater Dei, while the school’s first CIF championship since 2005 is only fueling Etiwanda in its second-ever appearance in the state semifinals.
After a first-round bye in the state tournament, the Eagles took less than two quarters to surge to a 20-point lead in an eventual 56-46 victory over CIF-City Section Division I champion Los Angeles Westchester. Mater Dei rebounded nicely, to put it mildly, from the three-point loss to Etiwanda in the CIF-SS title game by winning its two state tournament games by an average of 23 points. Consider Tuesday’s 83-63 blowout of a third-seeded Long Beach Poly team that took Etiwanda to overtime in the CIF-SS playoffs.
Among players to watch are Etiwanda junior point guard Jordan McLaughlin, who is coming off a 30-point game in the regional semifinals. Mater Dei’s 6-foot-7, inside-outside threat Stanley Johnson has scored at least 21 points in each state tournament game, but it is Elijah Brown, son of former Lakers coach Mike Brown, who is averaging 27 points per game for Mater Dei in the state playoffs.
CIF State Tournament
Open Division Southern California Regional Final
No. 1 Etiwanda (28-2) vs. No. 2 Santa Ana Mater Dei (32-2)
8 p.m., Saturday March 16
Citizens Business Bank Arena