FAB 50 No. 6 Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.) won the Platinum Division of the Tarkanian Classic for the second consecutive year, outlasting No. 27 Bishop O’Dowd (Oakland, Calif.) in overtime. Tournament will shake up national rankings picture as No. 2 Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.) loses twice at event. Check story for other national updates.
Related: Tarkanian Classic Friday Recap| Tarkanian Classic Thursday Top Performers | Tarkanian Classic Wednesday Recap | Tarkanian Classic Complete Results | Tarkanian Classic Preview | City of Palms Results
The boys basketball team at Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.) has endured defections, controversy and a big bull’s eye every game out as a three-time defending California state champion. Despite the distractions, and depleted roster, one gets the sense as long as it has forward Stanley Johnson in the lineup the Monarchs can play with any team in the nation.
Saturday night at Las Vegas’ Bishop Gorman High School, Johnson led Mater Dei, the No. 6 team in the latest Student Sports FAB 50 national rankings, to a second straight Tarkanian Classic title via its 63-59 victory over No. 27 Bishop O’Dowd (Oakland, Calif.). Mater Dei needed overtime to outlast an impressive Dragons team with a talented backcourt and 6-foot-10 Ivan Rabb, one of the nation’s best juniors.
In last year’s final, Mater Dei defeated Bishop Gorman 76-60, but in this year’s title game the Monarchs had to get physical to try and slow down Rabb after seeing him outplay a tall and talented Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas) frontline in Friday’s semifinal win. The Monarchs jumped out in front of Bishop O’Dowd, taking a 9-2 lead, but foul trouble saddled some of that aggressiveness the rest of the ball game and Rabb took advantage.
Rabb finished with 24 points, 21 rebounds and five blocked shots.
“You know, Ivan is very talented and athletic and the closer he gets to the basket, the easier the game is to him, so I had to use what I have to get him off the block and it worked, somewhat,” Johnson said.
It almost didn’t work for Mater Dei (10-0), as Rabb scored 12 consecutive points in the second half to get Bishop O’Dowd (4-1) back in the game. He then hit a field goal to send the game into overtime. The Dragons almost won the game in regulation on a drive to the basket by junior guard Paris Austin in which contact by Johnson didn’t result in either a basket — or a foul.
O’Dowd momentarily had the lead in overtime, but Johnson tied the game back up on a field goal and Mater Dei made enough of its free throws the rest of the way to pull out the win. Johnson finished with 25 points and eight rebounds, while the junior guard duo of La’Vette Parker and Rex Pflueger played good perimeter defense and combined for 24 points
Mater Dei’s coaching staff has been dogged by allegations of mistreatment by former starter Mario Soto, who left the team early in the season, and its depth was hurt when 6-foot-10 Jayce Johnson transferred out before the first game. Despite the distractions, the players have rallied together to keep their goal of four consecutive state titles a realistic achievement.
“I have always told my teammates you only can worry about what what you can control,” Johnson said. “I think with all the headlines this program has made, we’ve all become closer.”
Wasatch Academy (Mt. Pleasant, Utah) won the Tarkanian Classic Gold Division by defeating Orem (Utah), 54-51, in two overtimes on Saturday afternoon. Guard Cody John led thee Wasatch Academy players in double figures with 17 points.
Related: Tarkanian Classic Complete Results
FAB 50 Rankings Picture
Mater Dei is surely to move up in the next set of national rankings, provided it can win the Orange Holiday Classic after the Christmas holiday.
In the game before the Mater Dei-Bishop O’Dowd final, No. 2 Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.) lost on back-to-back nights, as the Pilots were shocked by unranked Montrose Christian (Rockville, Md.), 63-61.
Findlay Prep (15-3) had a lead of over 20 points, but lost on an amazing alley-oop dunk at the buzzer (CLICK HERE TO SEE VIDEO). Montrose Christian’s comeback was led by junior guard Allonzo Trier, who netted 26 points in the second half and finished with 36 points.
No. 17 Bishop Gorman (6-3) will likely stay in the FAB 50, provided it has a solid showing at the Les Schwab Tournament after Christmas. That tourney in Oregon also features No. 12 Rainier Beach (Seattle) and No. 18 Whitney Young (Chicago). If the seeding holds up, Rainer Beach and Whitney Young would meet in the semifinals, with the Gaels in the opposite bracket.
Bishop Gorman bounced back from its semifinal loss to No. 27 Bishop O’Dowd with a 62-53 victory over No. 46 Redondo Union in the third place game of the Tarkanian Classic. Unsigned senior guard Noah Robotham continues to score well for the Gaels. He finished with 22 points.
Redondo Union (7-3) will look to regroup at its own Sea Hawk Classic Tournament after Christmas. It remains to be seen if it will fall out of the rankings, but Mater Dei winning the Tarkanian Classic helped because the Monarchs blew them out in the semifinals.
A team Redondo Union beat earlier in the season, unranked Westchester (Los Angeles), which was FAB 50-ranked to begin the season, lost in the championship game of the Iolani Classic in Hawaii to No. 4 White Station (Memphis).
White Station blew out the Comets 65-41 behind a 22-point, 10-rebound performance from tournament MOP Leron Black. White Station defeated West Linn (West Linn, Ore) in the semifinals and Mt. Vernon (Mt. Vernon, N.Y.) to open the tournament.
A tricky proposition will be where to rank No. 8 Prime Prep (Fort Worth, Texas), which fell to unranked La Lumiere (La Porte, Ind.) 59-55 in the Prep Division of the Tarkanian Classic one day after defeating No. 2 Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.).
La Lumiere, which began the season in the FAB 50 at No. 18, upped its record to 12-1 behind the scoring of Auburn-bound Sam Logwood, who finished with 17 points. The Lakers’ Joseph Toye was lauded for his defensive effort on Emmanuel Mudiay, limiting the star guard to 16 points.
The next FAB 50 rankings shuffle would really be thrown for a loop if current and preseason No. 1 Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.) were to lose in Monday’s City of Palms Classic championship game against No. 9 Paul VI (Fairfax, Va.).
Last season, Paul VI handed Montverde Academy one of its two regular season losses before the Eagles bounced back to capture the National High School Invitational.
Montverde, which is playing without Ohio-State bound guard D’Angelo Russell, advanced to Monday’s final with a 58-51 semifinal victory over No. 16 Providence (Jacksonville, Fla.). In the other Saturday evening semifinal, Paul VI downed Whitney Young, 57-52.
If Paul VI, which is playing without guard Franklin Howard, can knock off Montverde Academy in Monday’s final, then the question should Paul VI hop Mater Dei in the next FAB 50 rankings will have to be answered.
Of course, both clubs would have to remain unbeaten going into the next rankings shuffle for it to be a valid question.