The Father Lopez boys basketball team won its fourth consecutive district championship Friday night.
BY MATT MENCARINI | STAFF WRITER
The Green Wave will continue to roll into the regional playoffs, having locked up a four-peat in districts.
The Father Lopez boys basketball team won the Class 3A, District 4 championship Friday, Feb. 8, when it beat Master’s Academy 75-51 at home, the fourth straight for the Green Wave.
The Green Wave were led by Malik Maitland, who scored a game-high 25 points and was key to a second quarter run that put the game out of reach for the Tigers.
Father Lopez began the second quarter with a seven-point lead, but an 8-0 run by the Green Wave forced Master’s to take a timeout just 1:11 into the quarter, which, unfortunately for Master’s, didn’t slow the Father Lopez offense.
“It gave us breathing room,” head coach Ed Miller said. “We can make runs in a hurry, and we got them on the ropes and we made some plays and really built up a big lead.”
The run and the big lead came as a result of the pressure defense Miller dialed up to open the second quarter, knowing Master’s preferred a slower, half-court style.
The lead didn’t mean Father Lopez could back off, but it did allow the Green Wave to dictate the remainder of the game, which Miller said accounted for a 24-point win, larger than both the 16- and 12-point wins in the two regular season match-ups.
“I wasn’t sure if they could really drag us into a half-court game, or if our pressure would be effective,” Miller said. “And we were after it tonight. It was effective tonight. If it’s not effective, obviously, it would be a little closer game.”
Not only was the district championship the fourth consecutive for Father Lopez, it was the program’s sixth district title in the past seven years.
“It means a lot to the kids,” Miller said. “They’re proud of what they’ve accomplished. And I think they deserve it. They’ve worked really hard and done everything I’ve asked.”
There are others who are proud of what this team accomplished, as well. Former players, Miller said, followed the team this season and were happy to see the tradition they helped establish continue to grow.
The Green Wave now advance to the regional quarterfinals, where they’ll play the District 3 runner-up and, maybe even more than during the regular season, Miller said his team needs to focus on one game at a time. They need to resist the urge to look ahead.
“It’s one-and-done,” he said. “So if you don’t take care of the next step, you’re going home. And we don’t want that to happen, so we’ll prepare like crazy for our next opponent.”
Part of the preparation will be rest. Senior Cameron Breehl injured his ankle early in the second quarter Friday, while hitting his fourth three-pointer of the game, and Miller said he also had several other players enter the district championship game with other lingering injuries.
The Green Wave will have about a week until their next game. And in the meantime, Miller plans to work to keep his players sharp, as well as get those who need it time to heal.
“We (need to) come in and have a sharp practice and make sure we’re staying in a rhythm,” Miller said. “And just prepare for what we’re going to see — that’s what’s most important.”