On the evening of March 5, 1913, John A. Mater Dei celebrated its 100th anniversary with a 60-47 victory over Alta Loma in the opening round of the boys' basketball championship of the CIF Southern Section. In the end, Mater Dei won three more titles that year.
Of course, in 2019, Mater Dei knows it's better to not look back. From the 13th century to now, the Monarchs always finish one championship short of its goal. This season, Mater Dei is looking to make amends in the Division 1-AA playoffs.
But the Monarchs look so much like a championship team with 11 players scoring in double figures in Tuesday night's 70-45 win over Loyola and closer against Gardena Serra on Thursday night.
This may not be the same Mater Dei team that reached the state Open Division final, but it has a talented young roster that has climbed back from the depths of disappointment in the final seconds of a CIF Southern Section Open Division championship game loss to Bishop Montgomery.
"We know what it takes," said guard Max Agbonkpolo, who scored a game-high 19 points against Loyola. "It's just a matter of working together as a team and believing in each other."
On Friday night, with a double-digit lead, Coach Gary McKnight decided to give the starters a breather and give the reserves a chance to gain experience.
As they should, everyone seemed to step up. The biggest contributions came from guards Brandon Clark and Matt Hauser, who combined for 21 points. Jack Williams added 13 points, including a pair of crucial three-pointers in the fourth quarter. Even Alex Copeland, who came off the bench, got in a few highlight plays, including a steal.
And as McKnight is fond of saying, "Whatever it takes to win."