After beating Mater Dei in the CIF SS finals at the Honda Center a few weeks ago, Bishop Montgomery was again tasked with the challenge of trying to defeat the Monarchs, this time for a regional title and trip to the state championship game.
David Singleton (13 points) excelled for Montgomery, hitting several 3s that sucked the life out of Mater Dei down the stretch, in a 60-53 victory for the Knights. Singleton struggled in the first half on the offensive end but was able to turn everything around when it mattered most.
"I just have faith in my shot, it was a rough start but I knew if I just kept shooting I would knock them down eventually," Singleton said.
Bishop last reached the state championship game when their now senior star trio of Singleton, Ethan Thompson and Jordan Schakel were freshmen.
"It's a great feeling to be going back to Sacramento, with this group of guys and coaching staff," Thompson said. "This is the reason we've been on this run, because we always have a chip on our shoulder playing like the underdog."
Justice Sueing (21 points) and Spencer Freedman (16 points) played well for Mater Dei in their second heartbreaking loss to Montgomery. Down the stretch of the final quarter, with the score tied at 36, Singleton knocked in a 3 to give his team a small advantage. Needing a stop, Mater Dei failed to lock up, and Singleton hit another three, making it 46-42 Montgomery.
Just like the first matchup, Bishop went on a run late and Mater Dei did nothing to stop it. With just over one minute remaining, Sueing fouled out for Mater Dei, and that began to be the end to MD's season. Suddenly however, Freedman knocked in two free throws and then stole the ball right back and scored again to make it 55-53.
It appeared as if Mater Dei suddenly had a chance, but back-to-back offensive fouls by senior forward Matt Weyand sealed MD's fate. After two Schakel free throws, the Knights were just seconds away from winning the regional title.
A Mater Dei miss gave Montgomery a chance to throw one down in transition, punctuating their victory, but Schakel missed the wide open slam to officially end the contest. Schakel's teammates were ready to celebrate the dunk, and found humor in how it ended up playing out.
"I thought he was about to make it, I was about to get so hyped," Thompson said.
To start things off in the third for Mater Dei, Freedman took a charge to give his team major momentum. He continued his big play with a key basket to put MD up 3, and give them some real momentum coming out of the half. It took until the late third for Montgomery's Thompson to get going, but at the 1:35 mark of the quarter he scored, cutting MD's lead to 34-31.
Both teams appeared to have some nerves during the first half, as it took a few minutes for the players to get settled in. Montgomery looked to attack the paint, while Freedman led a controlled Mater Dei attack on the other end. Several turnovers put MD down one heading into the second quarter.
Seven-foot-2 Bol Bol struggled for Mater Dei throughout the second, and head coach Gary McKnight began to make adjustments. Junior guard CJ Parks was brought in towards the end of the half, and he made an instant impact on the defensive end. However, after a Reagan Lundeen basket for MD with few seconds left, Parks fouled Ethan Thompson on a full-court shot attempt. With 0.2 seconds on the clock, Thompson converted on all three free throws to give his team a 23-22 lead at halftime. That last play of the first half represented how the night went for Mater Dei, and alluded to the success of Bishop Montgomery, the 2017 regional champs.
Montgomery will now turn their attention to the state championship game next Saturday night, at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento.