Monday, September 25, 2017
Page 708

Mater Dei Monarchs 64, Cajon Cowgirls 56

Considering Mater Dei runs 16 deep to Cajon’s nine – and that only five of those nine can actually play – the Cowgirls made it much more of a game than I thought they would. For that, I give them props; I thought they’d get whooped by the number one-ranked team in the country by at least 20.

But in the end, Cajon was worn down by the suffocating, relentless defense of its opponents, and by the tiers of Mater Dei players that always kept fresh legs in the game.

The game was neck-and-neck for the first half of the first quarter, with Cajon’s Darshae Burnside and Mater Dei’s Mya Oliver leading the charge for their teams. But then Monarch Coach Kevin Kiernan put in sophomore forward Alexyz Vaioletama, and the momentum shifted.

Vaioletama hit a velvety floater. One Cajon turnover later, she forced a shot in from the low post. At the first quarter buzzer, Vaioletama caught a very long pass and laid it up and in to put her team ahead 20-8.

She continued her assault in the second quarter, hitting two consecutive shots and stealing the ball and making a bucket; she finished the half with 11 points.

Alexyz Vaioletama battles for a loose ball with Cajon’s Ebony James.

Photo taken by Terry Pierson of the Press-Enterprise, www.pe.com.

But Cajon’s superstar guard Layshia Clarendon heated up in the second quarter and ignited a run for her team. On every posession she fought to get the ball up court, and she hit a three-point field goal while teammate Kori Walker hit two successive shots. Through fighting to get the ball up court and making a lot of shots, the Cowgirls first closed the gap and then took the lead, 32-21, at halftime. Clarendon had 16 points and Burnside, nine.

Cajon came out blazing in the third quarter, and Clarendon’s quick scoring increased their lead 38-31. But a big shot by Mater Dei’s Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis suddenly put out their fire. Behind the sophomore guard, the Monarchs went on a 16-0 run before the Cowgirls were finally able to score again with 1:57 to play in the period. Mosqueda-Lewis and Clarendon continued to trade baskets, and it was 51-44 at the end of three.

The Cowgirls got as close as five a couple times in the fourth quarter, but it was the Mosqueda-Lewis show. Watching her hit shot after shot, I forgot that she’d only scored two of her game-high 21 points in the first half. In fact, it was her baseline drive for the bucket and the foul with 37 seconds left that sealed the victory for Mater Dei, putting them ahead 64-56 – the final score.

Mosqueda-Lewis also finished with six rebounds and three steals, as did Vaioletama, who also contributed 13 points.

Clarendon had 28 points, four rebounds and three steals, while Burnside put up 13, grabbed 10 boards and had three blocks. Her status is not known, as she went down with what appeared to be a rolled ankle after a drive with 21 seconds to play. No one from Cajon showed up for post-game interviews with the media.

Vailetama blocks Burnside’s shot in the second half.

Photo taken by Terry Pierson of the Press-Enterprise, www.pe.com.

Mater Dei Coach Kiernan is in his second season at Mater Dei, having come from Troy High School in Fullerton. There, he guided his team to three state and five Southern California state titles in 11 years.

He admitted to maxpreps.com that he is “trying to build something very special here,” but said he is ahead of schedule.

I’ll tell you one of the reasons why: defense. I’ve not seen a full-court press like Mater Dei’s before. I don’t even know what you’d call it.

First, they put two defenders on the inbounder, or whomever is in the backcourt alone with the ball. Cajon turned the ball over a couple times before they figured out they needed to put the ball in Clarendon’s hands to start, because she was the only one with the acumen to get it out of the trap. Even so, it required the Cal-bound senior to bob up and down or lunge through the two defenders just to make the pass. If the ball gets past the first person, there are three other Mater Dei defenders waiting to shut down the offense. The Monarchs are a very tall team.

Another reason Mater Dei has risen to the top is that they are just loaded, and most of the best players are underclasswomen. Besides Mosqueda-Lewis and Vaioletama, they’ve got freshman point guard Jordan Adams and freshman guard Taylor Spears, each of whom average eight points and four assists per game. Senior Kathryn Haugen and junior Lauren Rock are also heavyweights on the team, and sophomore guard/forward Jessica Duarte is on the rise. Oliver is also a solid contributor.

Clarendon was impressive – much more so than in the Brea game two weeks ago. She only walked the ball up the court once, in the second half, and that was to slow down the feverish pace of the game. Mater Dei didn’t give her that luxury the rest of the time, and Clarendon handled it well. She really had to push hard to get the ball up the court on every single possession, and she’d just put her shoulder down and pound the ball into the floor, spinning away from a defender if she had to. Clarendon also made some pretty improbable shots. Mater Dei made her work hard for every single point, and she’s got a lot of endurance in that skinny little body.

But despite her undisputable skills, I decided last night that I’m not a fan of Clarendon or her team. They seem to thrive on displays, and I’m not big on drama. Even Paul Westphal, at one point in his broadcast, chuckled and said, “my but Cajon certainly has a flair for theatrics.” Indeed.

Clarendon was knocked to the ground several times as she fought to get the ball up court, and with each time, she made a bigger and bigger show out of getting up and grimacing. One time she was knocked to the ground mid-court, and laid there on her stomach for almost 30 seconds, sucking wind. Late in the game, Clarendon would step back and bend over for a few seconds before putting up a free throw.

I’m not saying that playing an intense, forest fire of a team like Mater Dei is easy, and I’m quite sure Clarendon was really tired. But the Monarchs were also fighting hard, and for their undefeated lives, and all they did was sweat a lot – there were no facial or emotional displays. Plus, everytime Clarendon went down, not one of the four coaches on the bench made a move to get out of their seats to help her. Granted, the minute a coach walks on the floor the player has to be taken out, and Cajon needed her for all 32 minutes. Still, they could have put her right back in, which lead me to think they knew what was up with her.

Cajon, as a team, also had trouble getting off the floor when they were warming up at a basket. First it was at halftime of the proceeding game, when Foothill came back to their seats and needed their basket. Then it was prior to their own game, when Mater Dei players were already lining up for intros while Cajon players ignored assistant coach Krystal Gray’s admonition to “come on!” for their own line up.

Before the game, Mater Dei players went to shake hands with all the refs. After the game, Mosqueda-Lewis, Vaioletama and Kiernan spoke with reporters and posed for photos. No one from Cajon came to the media room.

The referees did indeed seem biased towards Mater Dei at times, but I hope Cajon didn’t let that take them out of their game. Every great coach will tell you, don’t let the refs get in your head.

The one downer of the night was that Burnside apparently turned her ankle as she drove for the basket with 21 seconds to play. Her shoulders shook as she lay on her side, and this time the coaches did come out on to the floor. I hope she’s allright. Her team really needs her.

Other notes

Teams or partial teams in the house to check out the matchup: Brea Olinda, Bishop Amat, Riverside.

There are cameras in the ceiling of the gym. A guy that said he worked there tried to tell me they were spotlights, but when they lit up the spotlights for game intros, they were not them. I know a camera when I see it. Why would Mater Dei have cameras in a ceiling of a gym?

Foothill’s Christina Marinacci put up 27 points – 18 in the first half – in her team’s game against Long Beach Wilson, prior to the premiere game. Marinacci is off to USC next year, which explains why Trojan Coach Mark Trakh was in the house.

Best triple-threat position award goes to Vaioletama. Just awesome.

Mater Dei (top photo) and Cajon warm up before the game at their respective baskets.

Fun at Mater Dei

The Southern Section playoffs are moving from Long Beach State’s “Pyramid” this year to Mater Dei High School. The LA Junior Nationals tourney might be played there in April. And why, you ask? Take a look at the photo above.

Gorgeous facility. Only three years old, too. All the bleachers have seat backs; there is a large color monitor on each end of the court that shows the game and score. There are two long tables on each side of the court – one for the stat keepers/clock workers, and one for the press. The stat keeper side has a video screen on the front, facing the court, that constantly scrolls ads (in the pic it has the Nike swish going at the time). The floor has been done three times, according to staff, and the facility seats 1300-1500. In other words, it’s a real arena.

I had a good time tonight. After a lopsided Foothill-Long Beach Wilson game, I witnessed an intense, hard-driving matchup in Mater Dei vs. Cajon. I’ll post more specifics tomorrow. But it was funny who I ended up sitting next to at the press table for the premiere game.

I came back from getting stats and this guy had set up shop one seat away from me with his laptop and a whole bunch of notes that lined his entire space. I was impressed with that, but was too busy watching warm-ups to pay him much more attention. That is, until the team intros were completed and he suddenly put on a headset with a microphone and began talking into it.

“We’re here at beautiful Mater Dei High School with its amazing athletic facilities, in the Mereulo Athletic Center,” he boomed. “This is Paul Westphal, and this is vootage.com.”

So I’m sitting next to a basketball legend that might still live in my hometown Seattle, calling the game for the website I’d posted on my blog before I came. Just ask my kids – this kind of thing happens to me all the time.

Westphal was amazing. He’d done all his homework, so he spoke with authority about every player, provided flawless description of the goings on as they occurred, and kept stats (points only) as he spoke. I felt like a punk.

At a timeout when he took the headphones off, I asked him how long he’d been doing it and he said 20 years. I told him he was great, and that his comments were right on. He was very sweet. And at one point in the second half, I leaned over to look and see how many points he had down for the Walker kid; he was right on the money.

Mater Dei has a hell of an athletic program, as you can see by the million championship banners hanging from the ceiling. And they play crazy 70’s music during game pauses, like KISS and “Kung Fu Fighting.” But they’re great hosts, and their organizational skills are amazing.

Way across the Los Angeles area, my favorite high school team also won their game, putting them undefeated so far in their league. WOOT!

And though Mater Dei isn’t my favorite team, I can now say they’re one of my favorites. This is amusing, because I didn’t even expect to like them.

More after I get some Z’s.

Nike Extravaganza on tap tonight

Tonight’s matchups at Mater Dei High School are as follows:

3:00 p.m. St. Paul vs. Dana Hills
4:30 p.m. Santa Margarita vs. Villa Park
6:00 p.m. Foothill vs. LB Wilson
7:30 p.m. Mater Dei vs. Cajon

Webcasts are available at this link:

http://www.vootage.com/schedule/vootage

I will also provide full game reports in this space.

Contemplating caring

I spoke to Niya Butts, the new Arizona coach, a couple weeks ago for a fullcourt.com story. She mentioned in passing that when a player’s been hurt during a game this season, that she’s had to take a moment to reassure the rest of the team that their teammate will be OK. If she didn’t, Butts said, the team would be distracted in their worrying. I noticed something similar in last night’s Tennessee-Georgia game.

Lady Vol Shekinna Stricklen made a bucket, but then crumpled to the floor under the basket. She was eventually helped off the court and took a seat on the bench. When Coach Pat Summitt, who was mic’d up last night, got back to the huddle to address her team, she said: “She’s gonna be allright, OK?” She paused and briefly panned all five faces, then launched into her game-specific instructions.

Last April, Kansas Jayhawk Rodrick Stewart fell to the floor and broke his kneecap during a playoff game. Afterwards, one of his teammates described how down the entire team felt about the injury. But did Coach Bill Self go back to the huddle after Stewart was carried off court and tell his other players not to worry about it?

Wednesday I went to see my favorite high school girl’s team play, and when I got there, the JV game was in its last five minutes. In the final 60 seconds it got close, and favorite team’s JV was fighting for the win. All the varsity girls were on their feet cheering on their juniors like it was the national championship. Do high school boys teams do this for their JV teams?

These are some of the questions I’d like answered.

Six years ago I based my Master’s thesis on a study using the Women’s National Basketball League of Australia. Among other things, I found that a high percentage of players were strongly effected by the moods and feelings of their teammates – more so than their coaches. I’ve looked online and can’t find any similar studies (if anyone knows any, please point them out).

I think that I, or someone else, needs to do a very specific study toward this end, which would include a survey of men’s teams for comparison. I’d like to know if females worry more about their teammates than men, as it appears, or if it’s even. I honestly don’t know. Women are supposed to be the nurturing sex, but how many men worry just as much but keep it to themselves?

Other perspectives on this are most welcome.

Pat Summitt is the winningest Division I coach of all time

Well, she did it. And they did it.

The youngest team Coach Patricia Sue Head Summitt has ever coached pulled together and looked like a steady ship tonight. Glory Johnson, who was clearly UP for the game, lead a balanced scoring attack by all the Lady Vols with 20 points. And when it was all said and done, the youngsters beat Georgia 73-43 and gave their coach her 1000th career victory. Summitt is now the most winning D-I coach of all time, women or men.

Immediately after the game, Summitt was pulled to the side for an interview. On camera, Alicia Manning and Alex Fuller ran up behind her with a huge Gatorade bucket filled with…….sparkling confetti. Whew! They had everyone going for a minute.

Summitt got a whole bunch of stuff: a star on a walk in Knoxville, posters, paintings, and some “bling,” according to the announcer. She also gets a contract extension and some bonuses:

http://sports.espn.go.com/ncw/news/story?id=3887808

Summitt said even she was having trouble comprehending it. I know I sure am. She has been coaching since I was in second grade. Since before disco and when Michael Jackson was still part of the Jackson 5.

She was very gracious in crediting her staff and players past and present. But one of the commentators pointed out that this was nice, but the credit belonged to the coach who has won 84 percent of all the games she’s coached.

84 percent?

There will never be another like her.

The press is surprisingly slow to put anything online this evening, so for right now the best bet is on utladyvols.com. There’s a nice picture of Summitt with “congrats” wording above it. Behind the main picture are pictures from throughout Summitt’s career – it’s a trip. Then when you skip to the regular page there’s a picture of Fuller and Manning dumping the confetti on her head.

Tomorrow on ESPN Classic, they’re running a Pat Summitt marathon. Here’s the schedule:

6am-8am 1987 National Championship: Louisiana Tech vs Tennessee

8am-10am 1989 National Championship: Auburn vs Tennessee

10am-12pm 1991 National Championship: Tennessee vs Virginia

12pm-2pm 1996 National Championship: Tennessee vs Georgia

2pm-4pm 1997 National Championship: Old Dominion vs Tennessee

4pm-6pm 1998 National Championship: Tennessee vs Louisiana Tech

6pm-8pm 2007 National Championship: Rutgers vs Tennessee

8pm-10pm 2008 National Championship: Stanford vs Tennessee

10pm-12am Georgia vs Tennessee from Feb 5, 2009 – Win #1,000

Congrats, Coach Summitt. I only have one hero besides Harriett Tubman, and that is you.

Pat smiles

Summitt to try again tonight for win 1000

Goodness but these women’s hoops coaches are supportive of one another. Yesterday Pat Summitt got a text message from Georgia Coach Andy Landers, tonight’s opponent for the Vols, saying “if you don’t win tomorrow, I’m gonna be PO’d.”

The Bulldogs have a four-game winning streak going right now, so don’t look for them to just give up the win for Summitt’s sake. But it was a nice gesture on Landers’ part.

The funniest part of this piece, on knoxnews.com, was how well the Lady Vols took to their duties Tuesday, the day after the loss to Oklahoma and season-ending injury for Vicki Baugh.

Rather than practice Tuesday, Summitt had the players prepare the scouting report for tonight’s game. Her thinking was, “You do it and maybe you’ll respect it more and buy into it more.”

“I was surprisingly more into it than I thought I’d be,” sophomore guard Angie Bjorklund said. “I was like ‘Man, I could do this for a living possibly.’ Maybe I should think about coaching.”

It’s worth noting that Bjorklund also enjoying doing team laundry, which was punishment for a 74-58 loss at Vanderbilt last month. Still, Bjorklund noted that freshmen Alyssia Brewer and Alicia Manning took the report to the Thornton Center and, in Bjorklund’s words, “made it look pretty on the computer.”

“They made it look exactly like our scouting reports look,” Bjorklund said, “which is a set format. They’re real detailed.”

I think it’s genius of Summitt to forget practice the day after a horrible night like that, yet still keep them focused.

Link: http://www.govolsxtra.com/news/2009/feb/04/summitt-gets-message-from-landers-georgia/

Tonight’s game will be broadcast nationally, and will be on ESPN360, which means I’ll be getting the heck out of here the minute school is over and rushing home.

ESPN has it’s own Pat Summitt page, too: http://sports.espn.go.com/ncw/feature/index?page=patsummitt_1000

Finally, I’m happy to report that just as Candace Parker is cool with the boys, so is Pat Summitt.

A few of the football boys asked me Sunday if “this would be the night” for Summitt. The day after that, they consoled me. Yesterday they started asking me if I was excited about tonight’s game, and this morning David again asked me if tonight was it. The respect they have for Summitt is obvious. David said “Pat Summitt is hard!” which is a great thing in teenspeak.

Good sign, good sign.

Yup, Lisa Leslie is retiring

Though I’ve never been a Lisa Leslie fan, I will give her this, because it amazes me: she’s played a very long career relatively injury-free.

Link: http://www.wnba.com/sparks/news/Lisa_Leslie_Announces_Retirement.html

No official word on the Tina Thompson signing.

Vicki Baugh out for the season

It is as feared: Baugh tore the anterior cruciate ligament in her left knee in last night’s game against Oklahoma.

Sophomore Vicki Baugh Re-Injures Knee, Out for Season

Feb. 3, 2009

University of Tennessee Associate Athletics Director Jenny Moshak announced this evening that sophomore forward Vicki Baugh has torn the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in her left knee. The injury occurred during the second half of Monday’s loss at No. 2/2-ranked Oklahoma.

“Dr. Greg Mathien, UT team orthopedist, confirmed that the MRI performed on Vicki revealed a torn ACL in her left knee,” said Moshak. “She will begin rehab immediately, but is out for the season.”

Baugh, a 6-4 sophomore, from Sacramento, Calif., had seen very limited action since suffering a sprain of the knee in practice on Jan. 1.

This season, Baugh had played in 14 games, starting 10, and was averaging 6.5 ppg, 7.3 rpg.

Link: http://www.utladyvols.com/sports/w-baskbl/spec-rel/020309aaa.html

I’m so tired of torn ACLs. This one is even more heartbreaking because Baugh had worked so hard to rehabilitate from the same injury last year. That, and the fact that she has so much heart. She really puts it all on the court, and that was evident last night when she put a towel over her head when being wheeled out of the arena. I’m sure she already knew what had happened.

Scout.com correspondent Maria M. Cornelius had this to report on a thread on “The Summitt” message board tonight:

Also, team did not practice. Had a meeting and watched film as a team and some one on one. Showed Briana clips of Shannon on defense.

Pat said team gives in to fatigue, rather than fight through it, indication of youth not having been challenged to this extent before as players are not accustomed to being pushed like this on this level by opponents.

Turnovers: It appears to be particularly glaring on the perimeter with decision-making and across the board for perimeter players. Overpassing and passing in a rush. Need to make a dribble or two and make sure the ball gets to where it’s intended. Also smarter passes into the post.

Tough week on tap for team.

I wonder where the Lady Vols will end up at the end of the season this year. Life lessons never stop.

In the meantime, a Summitt board member has started a facebook group called “keep your head up, Vicki Baugh, we love you.” Damned nice of her.

Or if you’re so inclined, as I am, to send a card, here is the address:

Vicki Baugh
c/o Lady Vol Basketball
207 Thompson-Boling Arena
1600 Phillip Fulmer Way
University of Tennessee
Knoxville, TN 37996-4610

Hang in there, girl, and much love.

“They’re” saying that Tina Thompson is coming to LA and Lisa Leslie is retiring soon

Word out on the message boards is that former Comet Tina Thompson is about to be signed tomorrow by the LA Sparks.

I got a season ticket holder email from the Sparks at 8:28 p.m. promising a “major announcement featuring one of your favorite ‘SMOOTH’ players” tomorrow. So that’s obviously about the other rumor floating around this evening, and that is that Lisa Leslie will retire after this season.

I’m not surprised by either announcement, if rumors are true, and I am happy about both.

I’ve always loved Tina Thompson. She’s a great player and a classy one, and she’s like a big sister to Candace Parker. She’d be great to have on the Sparks.

I think Leslie is coming back one more time to try and get that last WNBA championship ring. Like her or not, she’s a competitor, and it’s probably still bothering her that they muffed it up last September.

So this is it: three towers. Parker, Thompson, Leslie.

I think I just got excited about the Sparks again.

Daily surprises

The Atlanta Dream waived shooting guard Betty Lennox today. It’s sad, but not altogether surprising because of the WNBA’s new 11-player per-team limit. If this is the end of Lennox’s pro hoops career, I wonder what Betty’s going to do next.

Still no word on Baugh yet………..

PS – Thanks and a wink to anonymous. Y’all should quit bein so anonymous…..

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