JSerra boys basketball upsets No. 1 Mater Dei for historic victory – Orange County Register

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After 20 years of trying, JSerra’s boys basketball team finally beat Mater Dei, defeating the No. 1-ranked Monarchs 68-62 on Wednesday in a Trinity League game at JSerra High.

Aidan Fowler was the star of the history-making night. He scored 36 points and did so efficiently. The 5-10 senior guard, who was All-Orange County first team last season, made 14 of his 22 shots.

Those shots were of a wide variety, as he bolstered his candidacy for this season’s county player of the year.

Fowler made three 3-pointers. His textbook jump-shooting form had him making pull-up jump shots, quick turnaround shots and a few leaners, too. Fowler made a couple of hang-time baskets in the 7-10 foot range and finished some dashing drives.

“It was just a big team win,” Fowler said.

As for himself, Fowler said, “It’s all the work I put in. I feel like I want to get more respect on my game. I feel like people think I’m an underdog.”

JSerra is No. 2 in the Orange County rankings behind Mater Dei. The Lions improved to 20-4 overall and 4-3 in league.

Mater Dei, which took a 15-game winning streak into the game, is 22-2 overall and 6-1 in league. The Monarchs are tied with St. John Bosco for first place.

JSerra 6-10 senior Sebastian Rancik, who scored 13 points, including two clutch 3-pointers in the fourth quarter and a 3-point play, said of Fowler: “He’s unbelievable. Just unbelievable.”

JSerra believed that this could be the season it could get that first win over the Monarchs.

“We’ve got a great group of guys,” said Rancik, who has signed with Colorado. “We knew before the season we’d get Mater Dei this year and I’m just happy we did it.”

JSerra senior forward Korin Hull scored 10 points. Lions freshman forward Godschoice Eboigbodin had nine rebounds.

Mater Dei 6-8 sophomore Brannon Martinsen scored a team-high 24 points with five rebounds. He was 8 of 9 from the floor and did not miss a shot until his final shot in the fourth quarter.

Monarchs senior guard Scotty Belnap scored 16 points including four 3-pointers.

Mater Dei had a 51-47 lead going into the fourth quarter.

Rancik made a 3-pointer a few feet beyond the top of the key to give the Lions a 52-51 lead.

The teams traded the lead a couple of times until Rancik converted a 3-point play that put JSerra on top 62-60 with 1:46 remaining.

Mater Dei’s Owen Verna made two free throws 19 seconds later to tie it 62-62. Fowler then scored on a drive, somehow finding a lane before softly putting the ball high off the glass for the basket and a 64-62 lead.

Fowler sealed the win when he made a steal and drew a foul, made the two awarded free throws with 10 seconds left for a 66-62 lead and added two more free throws after that for the final 68-62 score.

JSerra coach Keith Wilkinson was not at the game. He was serving the final game of his six-game suspension that was assessed for throwing his shoes onto the court to display his disagreement with the officiating when the Lions lost at Mater Dei earlier this month. Assistant coach C.J. Cooper assumed head coaching duties during Wilkinson’s absence.

The JSerra win over Mater Dei will affect the seeding of teams for the CIF-SS playoffs and perhaps the selection of the teams for the Open Division bracket.

The CIF-SS website says that for the Open Division that “up to 8 teams will be chosen” but it’s widely thought to again be an eight-team group.

JSerra might have made itself a sure thing for the Open Division with the win Wednesday. Mater Dei seems to be a sure thing, too, but maybe its seeding will drop because of the loss.

JSerra plays a Trinity League game Friday at Orange Lutheran. The Lions will also be part of the Nike Extravaganza at Mater Dei on Saturday. They will play San Diego’s St. Augustine at 3 p.m. The CalHiSports.com state rankings have St. Augustine at No. 22, JSerra at No. 10 and Mater Dei at No. 3.

The Lions conclude the regular season next week with league games against Santa Margarita and Servite.

Mater Dei plays at home against Servite on Friday. The Monarchs play Los Alamitos on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. in the Nike Extravaganza. They finish the regular season next week with two league games, at home against St. John Bosco on Tuesday and at Santa Margarita on Feb. 1.

The CIF-SS boys basketball playoff brackets will be released on Feb. 4.

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