MOORPARK — The Moorpark College Raiders never let their guard down.
Or, better yet, their guards never let them down.
Sophomore Devin Montgomery and freshman T.K. Reed put on a shooting and passing show Saturday night that carried the Raiders over Valley, 88-74, in a men's basketball Southern California playoffs bracket final at Moorpark.
The Raiders (25-5) advanced to the eight-team state championships Thursday through Saturday at University of the Pacific in Stockton. Moorpark reached the semifinals last season.
"The feeling is that last year we were happy to be in [the state tournament]," Coach Remy McCarthy said. "Without the risk of sounding cocky, we are going up there to win the tournament."
With Montgomery and Reed in the backcourt, Moorpark seems to have a legitimate chance to win it all.
Montgomery, from Alemany High by way of Duquesne, scored a career-high 40 points and Reed, from Sylmar, had 11 points and 11 assists to help secure the trip north for the Raiders.
"[Montgomery] is as good a guard as there is or has been in junior college. He's the best guard we've seen this [season] and his counterpart, Reed, complements him perfectly," Valley Coach Doug Michelson said. "We didn't defend the three-point shot at all. They shot the lights out."
And in the process, they turned off the lights on Valley (23-12), which was trying to qualify for its second trip to the state championships in a row. The Monarchs lost in the semifinals last season.
Montgomery, the Western State Conference Northern Division's most valuable player, made 11 of 18 shots from the field and 13 of 14 free throws. He made five of seven three-point shots, all in the first half.
"We shoot real well as a team, and shooting in our gym, that was even better," Montgomery said.
Reed set up Montgomery numerous times with fine passing, especially when the Raiders got their fast break rolling. Valley helped Moorpark's transition game by shooting 41.8% (27 of 67).
"It's so easy to coach with T.K. Reed and Devin Montgomery as your guards," McCarthy said.
Valley found the mark early and jumped to a 10-2 lead before Moorpark retaliated with a 21-3 run for a 23-13 lead with 10:16 to play in the first half.
The Raiders scored their final 18 points of the first half on six three-point baskets, including three by Montgomery and two by Simmagin Smith, a sophomore forward from Cleveland High. Moorpark led, 46-31, at the half.
Smith scored 14 points and his brother, Brian, had nine points and 12 rebounds.
Guard Isaac Brooks led Valley with 19 points and forward Nate Wilson had 12.
MEN'S REGIONAL FINALS
* Glendale pulled off a stunning upset of top-seeded L.A. City, 76-70, but Ventura fell, 72-68, to Saddleback. D16