Covering High School Sports in America
It was one of those games where you had to step back and admire.

Even if you likely lost your national No. 1 ranking, perfect record and streak of Southern Section titles.

File photo by Nicholas Koza

Amy Okonkwo, Etiwanda

But Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.) girls coach Kevin Kiernan was just part of the admiration society following his team's 73-72 overtime loss to Etiwanda in the Southern Section Division IAA semifinals Wednesday night on the road.

Yes Mater Dei (28-1) was on the road — the Southern Section doesn't reward higher seeds home games — but none of it mattered to Kiernan, whose three-time defending state champions (two at the Division I level) had also won four straight section crowns.

Follow Qwixcore account of game

Etiwanda (28-2), which was No. 9 nationally in the MaxPreps Freeman rankings coming in, got 28 points from Amy Okonkwo.

"It was a great high school game," Kiernan told the Orange County Register. "I give a lot of credit to Etiwanda. … (They) did a great job."

Said Okonkwo: "It's just so exhilarating."

So much so the Etiwanda faithful stormed the court. Karlie Samuelson led Mater Dei with 24 points and sister Katie Lou Samuelson added 20. Etiwanda plays Santiago (Corona) in Friday's Southern Section finals while Mater Dei waits for the CIF Southern California tournament and almost certainly will play in the Open Division.

"We'll just have to regroup," Kiernan said.