SACRAMENTO -- There were plenty of downcast faces on the Moreau Catholic High boys basketball team after its 85-44 loss to Bishop Montgomery-Torrance in the CIF Division IV championship game Saturday at Sleep Train Arena.
But with no seniors and only one junior on its roster, Moreau Catholic has reason to believe it can again compete for state championships in the coming seasons.
"It was a great season for our program," said Moreau Catholic coach Frank Knight, whose squad won its first North Coast Section and CIF Northern Regional titles. "I don't want (the team) to take from this season that this game is in any way indicative of the season that these guys have had.
"It's tough to see (this game) now as an experience. If we can make it back to the state title (game) the next couple of years, this experience will definitely benefit us."
If Moreau Catholic (27-7) returns to the state final soon, it may run into Bishop Montgomery (28-6) again. The Knights have only one senior on their roster -- Long Beach State-bound Justin Bibbins, who had 12 points, nine rebounds and four assists in the win.
The Mariners stayed close early. A thunderous dunk by Oscar Frayer put Moreau Catholic within two points of the lead at 8-6 with 4:31 left in the first quarter.
But Bishop Montgomery went on a 16-5 run to take a 24-11 lead early in the second quarter. The Knights led by double digits the rest of the game.
"Their style dovetailed perfectly with what we like to do," Bishop Montgomery coach Doug Mitchell said. "They go up and down the court. That helped us."
"I definitely want to take the blame for this loss," Knight said. "I probably should have prepared them for contact. ... We got out-rebounded and didn't get back on defense."
Bishop Montgomery outrebounded the Mariners 50-35.
Frayer, a sophomore wing, led Moreau Catholic with 10 points, six rebounds and three blocks. Teammates Damari Milstead and Armond Simmons added nine and eight points, respectively.
"We have not played a team this good in awhile, since Monte Vista," said Frayer, referring to a 75-56 loss on Nov. 30 to the eventual Division I state champions. "They just played harder."
The Knights' Stephen Thompson led all scorers with 20 points, and Ethan Thompson added 14.
The Knights had a 36-19 halftime lead and found another gear early in the second half to take a 62-32 lead after three quarters.
Moreau Catholic shot 14 for 56 (25 percent) from the field and 16 for 26 (61.5 percent) from the foul line.