CORONA– The 2020-21 CIFSS Open Division finals featured two of the most dominant Southern Section teams in recent history, so it was only fitting that Mater Dei and Corona Centennial, which both came in undefeated, put on an unforgettable show.
Mater Dei trailed for the majority of regulation, twice by 10 points, but found itself with the ball in the final possession of overtime of a game tied at 80. Lani White got loose moving off the ball as the last seconds of the game ticked down, and drained a buzzer-beating three off an assist from Brooke Demetre to clinch the Monarchs’ back-to-back championship bid.
Demetre finished with 28 points, 20 of which came in the first half when Centennial had numerous chances to break the game open if not for her scoring barrage. White added 17 points, and Caia Elisaldez scored 16.
Londynn Jones led Centennial with 25 points, Jayda Curry scored 23, and Layla Curry had 17.
Both teams brought a championship effort despite some injuries that made noticeable impacts.
Mater Dei has been without one of its top players, F/C Meaali’i Amosa, a Pepperdine commit, for the entire playoffs. The Huskies weren’t missing any starters, but got pretty banged up throughout the game – Jones left the game for a few minutes in the second quarter to receive treatment on a tweaked ankle, Trinity San Antonio exited the game with a knee injury late in the fourth quarter, and Jayda Curry took several hard falls including numerous blows to the hip and one to the head.
This marked the 12th CIFSS title for Mater Dei head coach Kevin Kiernan – just one of numerous section records for the winningest girls basketball coach in state history – and his sixth at Mater Dei. It was the eighth total for Mater Dei girls basketball, which moves them into a tie for sixth all-time in the Southern Section.
For those with the constitutional strength to withstand the adrenaline of another nail-biter between these juggernauts, Mater Dei and Centennial will be favored to meet for a rematch in the CIF Open Division Southern Region championship game as well.
**Here are all our photos from the game: