St. John Bosco basketball hands Mater Dei its first league loss at home since 1998

SANTA ANA — The last team to dethrone Mater Dei’s boys basketball team as Trinity League champions, albeit temporarily, was St. John Bosco in the 2018-19 season.

The Braves on Friday night helped their chances of possibly doing it again this season as they handed the Monarchs their first league loss at home since 1998.

Sophomore guard Elzie Harrington scored seven of his game-high 21 points in the fourth quarter to help the Braves pull off a 67-64 win over Mater Dei in the first week of Trinity League play.

The Braves (16-3, 2-0) are tied with Santa Margarita (2-0 in league) for first in the standings.

The Monarchs (13-3, 1-1), who are the No. 1-ranked team in Orange County, had a chance to tie the score and send the game to overtime. They set up an inbounds play with 2.8 seconds left and got the ball to freshman guard Luke Barnett. His clear shot from beyond the arc hit the rim but bounced away.

St.John Bosco 67
Mater Dei 64

Luke Barnett’s 3 to tie falls short as the Braves hold on for their first win over the Monarchs in 2 years.@ocvarsity @SteveFryer @FrankieBur @latsondheimer @johnwdavis @BoscoBasketball

— David Delgado🇪🇨 (@DavidDelgado_OC) January 7, 2023

“I thought both teams fought incredibly hard,” St. John Bosco coach Matt Dunn said. “I had a great look at (the last shot), it was right on my line (of vision) and it was right on line when he shot it, it just rims out.”

Mater Dei coach Gary McKnight said his youthful squad can learn from the setback.

“We have a lot of young kids that are playing and I think it can only help us down the road,” McKnight said. “Trinity League gets you prepared for the playoffs pretty good, so I kind of look at it as a positive. I was proud of the kids tonight, I thought they played really hard and they had some really good moments.”

The Monarchs pulled ahead late in the third quarter when Scotty Belnap’s 3-pointer made it 51-48. But the Braves’ Kade Bonam nailed a 3-pointer as the buzzer sounded to tie the score.

Harrington’s effort in the fourth quarter included a pair of highlight-worthy plays, an acrobatic three-point play and a great anticipation steal and breakaway dunk that gave St. John Bosco a 59-53 lead.

Mater Dei trailed by six points with about 2 minutes left in the game. Things nearly unraveled for Bosco as a blocking foul near midcourt gave the Monarchs a 1-and-1 at the free-throw line.

A few moments later a Braves assistant coach was called for a technical foul that gave Mater Dei an additional 1-and-1 situation, which the Monarchs converted.

“That was a rough time, our staff made a mistake,” Dunn said. “That’s a bad time for one (a technical) when they’re already shooting two (free throws), so they get four (free throws) and the ball. But that showed a lot of resiliency by our guys.”

Bonam scored 17 points and made four 3-pointers. The Braves’ Jack Turner had 15 points and six assists and Xinyi Li finished with 12 points and four rebounds.

Barnett caught fire in the second quarter as he scored 13 of his team-high 17 points in that period, including three 3-pointers. That helped Mater Dei build a seven-point halftime cushion.

Mater Dei senior Zack Davidson added 16 points while freshman Che Brogan chipped in 11 points.

“We shot 60% in the first half and in the second half, not bad, but we didn’t shoot it that high and we had some letdowns,” McKnight said.

Dunn noted the impact that Amiri Meadows had for the Braves in the second half.

“I though Amiri Meadows’ defense changed the game,” Dunn said. “When he went in the third quarter, he changed the tempo of the game and finally got it a little bit faster, which is what we needed to happen.”

Mater Dei will play St. Vincent-St. Mary, LeBron James’ alma mater, on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. at USC’s Galen Center.

Bosco’s next game is next game is Wednesday against JSerra, which lost to Santa Margarita 56-42 on Friday.

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