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CV gives No. 1 a run

Basketball: Falcons throw everything they've got at Mater Dei in 66-47 state loss.

March 07, 2012|By Gabriel Rizk, gabriel.rizk@latimes.com

SANTA ANA — The final 66-47 margin might suggest Wednesday's opening-round contest of the Southern California Regional of the CIF State Division I Basketball Championships was just another walkover for top-seeded host Mater Dei High in its march toward a ninth state crown.

But for over three quarters, the upstart underdog Crescenta Valley Falcons were very much a bee in the Monarchs' bonnet rather than a bug on their windshield.

Crescenta Valley overcame an early double-digit deficit to trail by just six at halftime, actually took a lead ever so briefly in the third quarter and entered the fourth still within striking distance, down by eight. It took nothing less than a run of perfection from Mater Dei, which knocked down its first seven shots from the field in the fourth, to put the game away.

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"We thought we could play with them," said Falcons guard Cole Currie, who led the way with 13 points. "They're the No. 1 team in California, but anyone who comes out and thinks they can't compete, they're gonna get their butts kicked.

"We wanted to compete and we did, but they're just tough."

Led by 25 points from Xavier Johnson, who combined with teammate Stanley Johnson (11 points) for 13 fourth-quarter points during the Monarch's decisive 14-4 run, Mater Dei (30-2) may not have expected a fight from the Falcons, but starting in the second quarter, it got one

The 16th-seeded Falcons (26-6), making their first state appearance since 1994, when they suffered an 85-54 first-round loss against top-seeded Mater Dei at UC Irvine, strung together back-to-back three pointers by Currie and Christian Misi (11 points) to cut the Monarchs' 10-point first-quarter lead to four with 6:25 left in the first half.

"We told our guys there's no pressure on us in this game," Falcons Coach Shawn Zargarian said. "A lot of times this season, there's been a lot of pressure on us and tonight we just played very relaxed."

Crescenta Valley's first-half offense didn't consist of much more than three-pointers — two apiece from Currie and Misi led the Falcons' overall five-of-13 output — with some big momentum baskets thrown in, such as Davis Dragovich's steal and layup with 1:11 left in the half that cut the lead to 24-21.

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