As it turned out, the Etiwanda and Santa Ana Mater Dei boys basketball teams each ended the season with a championship. Perhaps it’s only fitting that the teams’ star players share Southern California’s top individual award.
After leading the team to the school’s first CIF title in eight years, Etiwanda’s Jordan McLaughlin (right) was named the CIF-SS Division 1AA co-Player of the Year along with Mater Dei’s Stanley Johnson on Monday.
Etiwanda defeated Mater Dei in the CIF-SS championship game only to lose two weeks later in the CIF State tournament semifinals to a Mater Dei team on the way to its third straight state title. Etiwanda’s Dave Kleckner was granted sole possession of the CIF-SS Coach of the Year award after leading the No. 6 seed to the first championship since current NBA players Darren Collison and Jeff Pendergraph helped the Eagles to the 2005 CIF title.
This time it was the Etiwanda boys basketball team with the No. 1 seed next to its name in the program. And it was two-time defending state champion Santa Ana Mater Dei that avenged a loss in the CIF-SS Division 1AA championship game two weeks earlier with a 60-37 win over the Eagles in the CIF State Southern California regional final Saturday night at Citizens Business Bank Arena.
Etiwanda’s hot shooting was a huge factor in staking the Eagles to a 17-point fourth quarter lead in an eventual three-point victory over then No. 1 seed Mater Dei March 2 for the CIF-SS title.
The Eagles went cold Saturday night.
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.