Mater Dei will play for fourth-straight CIF-SS title

The two-time defending national champion Mater Dei Monarchs were too much to handle for the undefeated Santiago Sharks on Tuesday as Mater Dei demolished Santiago, 71-32.

“They’ve played bigger games than we have more than once,” Santiago head coach John Perez said. “We’ve played some big games, but they have played a lot more than we have. A lot more.”

“We’re a little team. They are a big team.”

Mater Dei just came off a record-setting quarterfinal matchup, routing Rialto, 83-59. The Monarchs set a single-game school record of 14 three pointers, led by Alexas Williamson who sank 8-of-10 and had a career-high 34 points.

Despite injuries to starter Amy Ogren (ACL) and key reserves Alli Brown (concussion) and Andee Velasco (foot), the team played one of its best games of the year this weekend and carried that momentum into Tuesday’s game.

“I’m really happy with the effort coming into an arena type setting and shooting as well as we did in the first quarter kind of gave us a huge advantage,” Mater Dei head coach Kevin Keirnan said. “We’ve been shooting pretty well lately, and it kind of just carried us through the rest of the way.”

Santiago took an early 5-0 lead after a 3-pointer by Shiana Carrington, who was the first on the board for either team. That lead didn’t last long as Mater Dei proceeded to score 22 unanswered points. The Monarchs shot 47 percent and were 6-of-10 from beyond the arc by the end of the first quarter.

Mater Dei stayed in control of the game, skyrocketing to a 21-point lead to make it 35-14 at the half. The Monarchs held Santiago’s leading scorer Chrishae Rowe, who has been averaging 19.6 points, to four points in the first half. They capitalized off of the Sharks’ mistakes, scoring 16 points off turnovers in the first half.

By the end of the third, the Monarchs were up 57-25, and it didn’t get any better for the Sharks. The Sharks shot 21.6 percent from the floor and were 2-of-14 from beyond the arc. Mater Dei increased their lead to as much as 43 points before the final buzzer.

Rowe finished with eight points and nine rebounds. Mater Dei’s Nirra Fields, who was essentially unstoppable the entire game, ended with a game-high 27 points and 11 rebounds.

“It was a good experience because I never have had to guard somebody that good,” Carrington said of Fields. “She’s not like anybody I’ve guarded before so it’s not like I could bully her the whole time.”

This marks the end of a perfect season for Santiago and an 11-month win streak for Perez personally. He also coaches the girls softball team.

“We have to get all this out of our system. This is our first loss since . . . a long time ago,” Perez said.

Mater Dei will be going for their fourth CIF-SS title in a row when they take on the winner of the Brea Olinda/Long Beach Poly game in the CIF-SS Finals.