In Wednesday night's highly anticipated Trinity League matchup between Mater Dei and Santa Margarita, the Monarchs' athleticism and hustle outlasted the Eagles' efforts in a 78-67 victory.
Six-foot-7 senior forward Justice Sueing led Mater Dei with 31 points and nine rebounds, along with 6-1 junior guard Spencer Freedman, who scored 18 points and dished out five assists. Freedman was also tenacious on the boards, grabbing five rebounds.
"I came out here and played hard, tried to hit the boards," Sueing said. "It's always good to go on the road and get a win, that was our goal tonight and now we move onto the next one. Hopefully we can keep this season going well for us."
Santa Margarita was led by 6-foot-8 senior forward Adrease Jackson, who came up huge for the Eagles with 33 points and 10 rebounds. Jake Kyman, a 6-foot-7 sophomore forward, also chipped in with 15 points.
Coming into this competitive matchup, both head coaches were adamant in specific areas that their respective teams needed to address.
Santa Margarita head coach Jeff Reinert explained how much respect his team has for Mater Dei, and what such a big game means to his program.
"Well, we are playing one of the top five programs in the whole country, and they're in our conference," he said. "There's so much excitement and competition, especially here in Orange County. You rarely get this opportunity, to play against one of the top teams in the country.
"We have to be efficient on offense and defense, we can't give them easy baskets. The key will be to take it one possession at a time."
Mater Dei's accomplished head coach, Gary McKnight, is the winningest coach in the history of California basketball. Coach McKnight spoke about going on the road into a hostile environment at Santa Margarita before the game.
"The atmosphere is always exciting in the Trinity League, especially on the road," he said. "A key for us will be to keep them off the offensive boards, they have lots of size on their team. Offensively, we need to have patience, we must reverse the ball and attack off the dribble."
Out on the floor Wednesday night, Mater Dei's all-around team play seemed to wear out Santa Margarita at both ends of the floor. The Monarchs shot 43.9 percent from the field and snatched 35 rebounds, 13 of which coming on the offensive end.
Santa Margarita actually shot a better percentage from the field than the Monarchs, at 44.3 percent, but shot just 23.5 percent from the 3-point line and grabbed 32 rebounds, three short of Mater Dei's total.
Mater Dei came out strong and won the first quarter 15-13, and while Margarita took the fourth quarter scoring advantage at 25-21, it was too little, too late. The Monarchs also scored 19 points off of turnovers, while the Eagles scored just 3.
With the victory, Mater Dei improves to 4-0 in Trinity League play and 20-1 overall. Santa Margarita falls to 2-2 in league, and 13-5 overall.