Chargers play tough at Chicago Elite Classic but couldn’t get past nationally ranked Mater Dei

Sophomore Jordan Ash rises up and makes a shot in the 2012 Chicago Elite Classic

Sun-Times Media

Sophomore Jordan Ash rises up and makes a shot in the 2012 Chicago Elite Classic

Kyle Murray, Staff Writer

On Saturday, December 1, the St. Joseph Chargers varsity basketball team faced the nation’s number 11 team, the Mater Dei Monarchs at the Chicago Elite Classic at the UIC Pavilion.

Mater Dei High school is located in Santa Ana, California and is also a Roman Catholic school. Mater Dei is supremely larger then St. Joe’s, with 2100 students. The school colors of the Monarchs are scarlet and gray and Mater Dei plays in the CIF Southern Conference.

In 2008 Mater Dei was ranked number 2 in Sports Illustrator’s best high school athletic programs. The Mater Dei basketball program has 8 California State Championships since 1983. The Monarchs’ Gary McKnight is the state’s winningest basketball coach with 892 victories. Notable alumni from Mater Dei include John Huarte, Heisman Trophy winner and Former Chicago Bears quarterback, Matt Leinart, NFL quarterback, and Mike Hopkins former NCAA basketball player and current Syracuse assistant coach.

St. Joe’s is currently ranked 11th in the state of Illinois going into the game against Mater Dei. The Chargers were 4-1 with their only loss against a strong St. Charles East team. Mater Dei will most likely be the toughest opponent this year for the Chargers. The Chargers have had 5 games under their belt while this was the Monarchs first contest of the season.

A three pointer by the Monarchs Elijah Brown with about three minutes remaining was the difference maker. A 54-47 Monarch lead with 4:40 to play in the fourth quarter changed dramatically as a heavy defended Paul Turner sank a three pointer to cut the lead to four. Right after the three by the Chargers the Monarchs quickly came right back down the floor and found an open Elijah Brown who took the lead back to seven. St. Joe’s couldn’t get back on track then as Mater Dei played well down the stretch and won 65-55. The Chargers opened the game 7-2, but then Mater Dei scored 10 consecutive points to take a lead that they wouldn’t give back. Glynn Watson ’15, point guard, took the lead for the Chargers scoring 17 points. Watson didn’t look like a sophomore playing in the biggest game of his career on a national stage. Junior shooting guard Paul Turner got going in the second half as he was guarded by another junior standout Stanley Johnson of Mater Dei. The Chargers got out rebounded the whole entire half as the Monarchs went into the half with a 32- 25 advantage.

The third quarter was not a quarter Coach Pingatore was happy about at all. St. Joe’s  got out rebounded in the third quarter and they went into the fourth down by 10. In the last quarter of play the Chargers got on track, with Seniors A.J Patty and Ronald Lewis getting rebound after rebound to get the Chargers back in the Game. With five and a half minutes to play the Monarchs were only up 48-47, when Elijah Brown (28 points) took over. St. Joe’s played the 11th ranked Monarchs tough and looked like they had a chance to win the game, but Mater Dei just didn’t let go of their late lead. All in all, it was a great test and experience for the Chargers and something to build upon moving forward in the season.

Other Games at the Chicago Elite Classic: Lone Peak (Utah) 84 Proviso East 46, Whitney Young 72 Dematha Catholic (Maryland) 58, Simeon 56 Milton (Georgia) 35