Basketball: Mater Dei Season Preview
Well, another basketball season got underway for the Mater Dei Monarchs on Tuesday night, November 20th when they hosted their season opener and beat El Toro, 94-28. Wilhelm Breidenbach led the way with 23 points and 17 rebounds.
This was only the 2nd Monarch game that I have missed in California in the 21st century. The first one was in January of 2005 when I missed a game down in Oceanside where Chase Budinger set a record for most points scored in a single game against the Monarchs with 52. Mater Dei won the game.
Mater Dei will play Dos Pueblos in Goleta this Friday night and the following day will play a 5 p.m. game against San Marcos in Santa Barbara.
I have attended several Mater Dei practices and this will be a young but talented team that is probably a year away from being in the national top 25. They will not have any senior starters.
Two of the top returnees this season are 6-9 soph Wilhelm Breidenbach at center and 6-4 soph Devin Askew at PG. These two have improved a lot after playing in big time AAU competition this past summer.
Another soph that got quite a few minutes last year and will be a likely starter is 6-9 Harrison Hornery. All these sophs have D-1 offers already. Another veteran is 6-4 Jr guard Aidan Prukop, a very good outside shooter.
Mater Dei also has two new transfer students, both from Santa Margarita. 6-3 Jr. guard Ryan Evans is a great 3-point threat and a definite starter, while 6-8 soph Nick Davidson played a lot of minutes for the Eagles as a freshman last year and I expect to see him improving as the season progresses.
Clay Donahue was also a transfer from Santa Margarita as a soph and now the 6-6 Sr. will certainly be in the rotation and will play a bigger role. Daniel Williams is another senior and he and Donahue, along with Askew, are co-captains of the team.
Mater Dei has been ranked #1 in Orange County by the Orange County Register in the preseason rankings. Like last year I expect them to be contenders for the CIF championship which they won last year as an underdog.
There are 6 freshmen on the 25 player roster but I expect most of them will be playing on the JV team. But 6-3 Gabriel Quiette looks like he may stay up on the varsity.
6-7 Jr. Logan Cremonesi was a part time starter last year but missed some time with injury. He could also add some depth to the squad.
This season the Trinity League will only have one round which is quite a change. I don’t know if that is going to be permanent but it sure makes each game important.
The league should be strong and Mater Dei open its league season on January 9th at home against JSerra. Then they play Servite at home on January 11th and play their 2 strongest league foes, Santa Margarita and St John Bosco, on the road on January 16th and 18th.
They finish the regular season at home against Orange Lutheran on January 30th, which is the earliest regular season finish I have ever seen in California.
The 24th edition of the Nike Extravaganza which is usually played on Super Bowl weekend will be played at the Meruelo Athletic Center on the 25th and 26th of January this year.
Mater Dei's December tournament schedule finds them playing in the Corona Del Mar tourney from Dec 3-8th, the Westminster tourney Jan 10-15th and the MaxPreps tourney in Palm Springs from Jan 26-29th.
They also have one out of state game in the Chicago Elite Classic on Saturday Dec 1st against Chicago Whitney Young.
Their opponents in the Nike Extravaganza are Rolling Hills Prep on Jan 25th and Harvard-Westlake on the 26th.
Coach Gary McKnight is now entering his 37th season as head coach of the Monarchs and is the winning-est coach in California history. He finally hit the triple digits in losses last season and now has lost 105 games in 36 years.
But he has won exactly 1,000 more than he has lost, as his record stands at 1,105-105. So that is just over 30 wins and just under 3 losses per season, which is really outstanding.