Montclair Prep Posts Slow-Motion Win

TIMES STAFF WRITER

It wasn't by choice, but Montclair Prep was finally taken out of its pressure defense Thursday night by La Jolla Country Day.

After three starters had picked up four fouls by the end of the third quarter, the Mounties were forced into a deliberate half-court game, preferred by the Torres.

Still, Montclair Prep adapted just well enough to pull out a 72-67 overtime victory in the Division V Southern California Regional semifinal at Montclair Prep.

The Mounties played the fourth quarter and overtime with seniors Scott Stark, Jeff Benson and Akil Anderson each saddled with four fouls. Midway through the fourth quarter, Anwawn Jones picked up his fourth foul, too.

But none fouled out.

The top-seeded Mounties (28-3) will play second-seeded San Diego Horizon Christian in the Southern California final Saturday at 4 p.m. at Cal State Fullerton.

Country Day was fortunate to force overtime. Benson hit one of two free throws with 14 seconds left for a 58-55 lead, but Jamie Hooper hit a three-point basket with less than a second remaining, erasing the last of a 10-point Mountie fourth-quarter lead.

"Getting the fouls kept us from really pressuring like we want to," Anderson said. "This became a wake-up call from us."

Montclair Prep took charge early in overtime on baskets by Stark and Jones, forcing the Torres to try three-pointers.

Jason Semanisin and A.G. Spanos each hit desperate shots from the perimeter to keep Country Day (21-9) in the game until Carlease Clark hit two free throws with 10 seconds remaining for a five-point lead.

Jones finished with 20 points, nine rebounds and five blocked shots for the Mounties.

Stark and Anderson each added 17 points.

Semanisin scored 17 points and Hooper added 16 for the fourth-seeded Torres.

Montclair Prep opened the second half with a 13-5 run, capped by a technical foul on Country Day Coach Ted Carter on a made basket and foul call against Jones.

Benson converted a three-pointer on the ensuing possession for a 38-26 lead.

Country Day whittled away at the lead as Anderson, Stark and finally Benson each fell into foul trouble.

"We're used to surprises now," Jones said. "We have to be ready for anything."

The teams traded the lead through much of the first half. Montclair Prep scored the final three baskets of the half and took a 25-21 lead at the break.

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