SACRAMENTO --- Yet another state game appearance ended in disappointment for the Bishop O'Dowd High boys basketball team.
Seeking its first state championship in more than 30 years, the Dragons fell to Mater Dei-Santa Ana 71-61 in the CIF Open Division state boys basketball championship game on March 29 at Sleep Train Arena.
In a game featuring two of the top players in the nation, Mater Dei's Stanley Johnson outplayed O'Dowd's Ivan Rabb.
The Dragons also couldn't recover from a poor second quarter and 20 turnovers, despite having a 52-26 rebounding edge.
"We thought we were the better team," O'Dowd coach Lou Richie said. "We weren't the better team today. Not with those turnovers, and we couldn't stop Stanley from getting the ball."
Since winning its only state title in 1981, O'Dowd (28-5) has now lost eight consecutive times on the state's biggest stage.
Johnson, the Gatorade State Player of the Year headed to Arizona, guided the Monarchs to their fourth straight state championship and an undefeated season with 25 points, eight assists and three steals. He was especially lethal in transition.
The 6-foot-7 senior guard got off to a slow start before helping the Monarchs (35-0), ranked No. 1 in the nation in most polls, take the lead for good in the second quarter.
"In transition, it's hard to find him when he's ahead of everybody with a steal," Richie said.
Rabb, a 6-10 forward who is considered the top junior in the country, was held to just two points through three quarters against the Monarchs' box-and-one defense. He finished with 10 points, 16 rebounds and three blocks.
"Someone said something's wrong with his ankle. Nothing's wrong with his ankle," Richie said. "They were putting two people on him and other players were making turnovers before we could get the ball to Ivan. He fought valiantly in the fourth quarter."
Paris Austin led Bishop O'Dowd with 23 points, and Juwan Anderson added 11 for the Dragons. M.J. Cage had 16 points for Mater Dei, which won a second straight Open Division title and its 11th overall state championship.
O'Dowd led 13-10 after the first quarter, keeping Johnson scoreless until he hit a jumper just before the horn.
That shot seemed to wake him up. Johnson went on to score the Monarchs' next seven points, with his three-point play giving Mater Dei the lead at 17-16. He had 13 points by halftime.
Mater Dei was able to keep the ball out of Rabb's hands for the most part in the opening half, limiting him to just two points on 1 of 3 shooting. His lone bucket was a transition dunk in the first quarter.
Bishop O'Dowd had bigger problems, though. The Dragons turned the ball over 14 times in the first half and were 2 of 7 from the free-throw line.
Mater Dei took a double digit lead on its first possession of the second half, and O'Dowd was never able to seriously cut into the deficit.