Mater Dei Catholic freshman Jaylen Hands (shown in a game earlier this season) scored 12 points in the Crusaders' loss to St. John Bosco on Tuesday.
BELLFLOWER Swatting a game-tying layup in the waning seconds, Mater Dei Catholic survived the quarterfinals in Chula Vista with a win over a potent Calabasas squad.
Tuesday night’s semifinals, however, unfolded much differently for the San Diego Section Division II champion.
Top-seeded St. John Bosco built a 10-point cushion in the first half, then widened the gap, thumping No. 4 Mater Dei Catholic 84-64 at home to advance to the Southern California Regional Division II final.
“We tried to space them out on offense,” said Braves coach Derrick Taylor. “On the high school level, one kid is hard to defend. We have three guys that we feel are tough, and when all three are playing well, it can give teams problems defensively and makes us difficult to beat.”
Normally the Crusaders’ strong suit, the defensive end was their undoing against St. John Bosco (21-11).
Mater Dei Catholic (30-3) blew zone assignments and surrendered offensive rebounds, at least a dozen second-chance points, eight layups and a half-dozen dunks in addition to 14 transition points throughout.
“These guys are crafty and quick and they slide right in and box out on the offensive glass,” Taylor said. “Their length helps them grab rebounds, too.”
The Braves’ inside presence opened up the 3-point line, where guard Vance Jackson poured in 15 of his 25 points.
Foul trouble also marred the Crusaders. Senior forward Israel Seales fouled out in the final period and seniors Spencer Verring and Iman Chatman finished with four fouls apiece.
In the third quarter, Mater Dei reduced the lead to 46-38 on a Seales breakaway dunk at the 4:06 mark but could get no closer.
Seales produced a team-high 13 points while freshman guard Jaylen Hands added 12.
The Crusaders were the lone San Diego Section boys team still playing in the SoCal Regional.