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Montclair Prep Claims Its First Title

March 04, 2001|MIKE HAUBRICH | From Staff Reports

Forward Eshaya Murphy and center Jasmine Wesley combined for 53 points and 27 rebounds, leading Montclair Prep to its first Southern Section girls' basketball title with a 67-43 victory over Huntington Beach Brethren Christian in the Division V-AA title game Saturday at The Pyramid in Long Beach.

With her team holding a one-point lead early in the third quarter, Montclair Prep forward Ciara Libaridian was fouled driving to the basket.

Libaridian made the first free throw but missed the second. Brethren Christian's Heather Spowart grabbed the rebound and put the ball back into the basket, giving Montclair Prep a 34-30 lead.

"I don't think I've ever seen anything like it," Mountie Coach Bob Webb said.

The Mounties (27-0) took advantage, scoring 15 off the next 22 points to take a 49-37 lead with 1:37 to play in the third quarter.

"We were stunned," Murphy said of Spowart's mental lapse. "I play [club basketball] with her, and I felt really bad."

Brethren Christian's hopes for a comeback dimmed after forward Danielle Hall injured a knee with 1:09 remaining in the third quarter.

The Mounties outscored Brethren Christian, 20-6, the rest of the way.

Murphy finished with 31 points, 12 rebounds and five steals even though she didn't play most of the second quarter because of foul trouble.

Brethren Christian (21-10) benefited from Murphy's absence, cutting a 10-point Montclair Prep lead to one just before halftime. But Murphy played the entire second half, scoring 18 points.

"This is so huge," Murphy said. "Our bench played great today, and now we've achieved one of our goals."

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