FOLSOM — In a title game that will long be remembered for its record-setting offense, dunks and spectacular passes, few will recall Will Brew's defensive effort.
The 6-foot-3-inch guard, off to UC Santa Barbara next season, will never forget it, however.
"I'm always more proud of my defense than scoring, because it's defense that wins games," the St. Mary's High senior said.
He's got that right.
Never miss a local story.
Brew's tenacious second-half play silenced D.J. Seeley, allowing the Panthers to pull away for an 82-70 win over Modesto Christian and the Northern California Division IV championship. St. Mary's broke the record for most points scored by one team, and the two combined to establish a new record for most total points in a game.
Seeley, who has signed to play at Cal, beat Chris Brew — Will's younger brother — for 12 points in the first half. More important, Seeley had ignited a second-quarter rally with an amazing array of no-look passes to teammates crashing toward the basket.
"We were already on the floor (for the second half) and I asked Chris if he wanted to switch," said Will, who also had 16 points and six assists. "I've played with D.J., so I know what a great player he is. But I also know he is at his best around the basket.
"The first half, he got inside and got everyone involved in the game. I was able to push him out of the key in the second half."
Seeley finished with 18 points, including four treys, while 6-7 junior Reeves Nelson scored 27. Nelson also tied the NorCal D-IV championship-game record with 12 field goals and 17 rebounds.
While MC (29-5) might have had the two best players on the court, St. Mary's (32-1) had the better team.
All five Panthers were adept at handling the ball and were quick enough to slash past defenders and penetrate for easy layups.
Wild first half
The first half more than lived up to its billing, as the stars on each side electrified the capacity crowd with their play. St. Mary's had the Crusaders questioning themselves early, going up 12-4 just 3 minutes into the game, but MC began climbing back in.
The key to that rally was Seeley, who repeatedly brought the crowd to its feet with a series of 3-points shots and no-look passes to teammates around the hoop.
MC's Adam Watts got his third foul in the opening minute of the second quarter, but the Crusaders didn't blink as they went on a 20-10 run for a 33-32 lead with 2 minutes left in the half. Seeley had 12 in the first half and Nelson had 14, and both were instrumental during the comeback.
MC kept pushing the ball inside to Nelson and, after struggling with the Panthers' hands-on defense early in the game, he began to assert his strength. Instead of putting the ball on the ground in traffic, as he had been doing, Nelson began going right up with the ball before the Panthers could converge on him.
The show-stopper, however, was from Seeley in transition — though his jumper from the free-throw line that got MC to within 28-27 was pretty important, too.
With MC down 33-32, Seeley led a 3-on-1 break with a defender on his hip. Seeley cradled the ball at the free-throw line, suspended in the air, then flipped it behind his back to Daniel Lemburg for a layup and MC's first lead since the opening minutes.
Bee staff writer Richard T. Estrada can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2300.