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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS

Easy Driver

Montgomery, Playing With Seemingly Effortless Grace, Helps Moorpark Reach New Heights This Season

March 08, 2001|FERNANDO DOMINGUEZ | TIMES STAFF WRITER

MOORPARK — It was pure artistry on the basketball court.

Guard Devin Montgomery of Moorpark College drove to the basket along the right baseline and, when a Valley player tried to cut him off, dribbled past him for a reverse layup--left-handed.

Montgomery, a right-hander, made it look effortless. But that's pretty much the way the former Alemany High standout always plays, with every move and every shot a thing of beauty.

"Sometimes it doesn't seem like he's going as hard as he should be going, but all you have to do is look at the [game] film later," Coach Remy McCarthy said.

For those looking for hard numbers, Montgomery is a virtuoso there, too.

He scored a college career-high 40 points to help the Raiders defeat Valley, 88-74, in a playoff game Saturday that sent Moorpark (25-5) to the eight-team men's state championships today through Saturday at University of the Pacific in Stockton.

The 6-foot transfer from Duquesne made five of seven three-point shots and 13 of 14 free throws against the Monarchs, proving his selection as most valuable player in the Western State Conference Northern Division was no mistake.

"[Montgomery] is as good a guard as there is or has been in junior college," Coach Doug Michelson of Valley said.

McCarthy could hardly believe it when sophomore guard T.K. Reed told him Montgomery was leaving Duquesne after one season and considering Moorpark.

Reed, from Sylmar, and Montgomery have been friends for a few years.

"T.K. got him," McCarthy said. "He's the one who deserves all of the credit. . . . It didn't take us very long to figure out [Montgomery] was going to help us."

Without Montgomery, Moorpark won the division title last season, but lost in the state semifinals at Stockton.

With Montgomery, the Raiders defended their division championship and believe they have a good chance of winning the state title.

"We feel real good," Montgomery said. "It's just what we've been talking about since August. We are there now, so might as well win it."

Montgomery, who lives in Granada Hills, is well-traveled. His first two high school seasons were spent at Ribet Academy in La Canada, where he scored 50 points in a game.

He was an All-City selection as a junior at San Fernando and an All-Southern Section pick as a senior at Alemany.

He went to San Fernando because Darryl McDonald, his former club coach, was an assistant with the Tigers. Then McDonald became coach at Alemany and Montgomery and three other San Fernando players followed him to the Mission Hills school.

After high school, Montgomery chose Duquesne in Pittsburgh because his Division I options had dwindled quickly.

"I passed my SATs real late, so all the big schools backed off me," Montgomery said. "It just wasn't the place for me. The program was kind of shaky, but I would have dealt with that. I missed California. Nothing like home.

"When I was at Duquesne, I had talked to T.K. So at the end of the school year, I made my decision [to transfer]."

Montgomery averaged a team-best 22.1 points and made 59 three-point baskets for the Raiders in the regular season, helping the team pull into Stockton with a 13-game winning streak.

The string nearly ended in the second round of the playoffs when Montgomery battled food poisoning and Moorpark escaped with an 81-74 victory over Compton. He scored 11 points.

"He was [sick] at halftime and missed the first nine minutes of the second half," McCarthy said. "He picked himself up from the carpet. He deserves as much credit for that as for anything he has done this season."

Montgomery is anxious to play in the Final Eight, where recruiters from four-year schools flock to every March.

He said Pepperdine is pursuing him and Coach Phil Mathews of San Francisco, the former coach at Ventura College, stopped by Moorpark's practice on Tuesday to watch Montgomery.

The state tournament at Pacific's 6,000-seat Spanos Center should provide a befitting stage for Montgomery. The Raiders, the No. 2-seeded team from the South, play a quarterfinal game against Foothill (25-9), the North's No. 3-seeded team, today at 2.

"I'm antsy just waiting to get up there," Montgomery said. "The more people there, the better. I try to put on a show for my peers and for the crowd.

"We are not going up there just to play. This is not a trip for fun. This is a business trip. Our last game we were cutting down the nets. I'm not really into that until we win it all."

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

COLLEGE MATCHUPS

Junior College

State Championships

MEN

At University of the

Pacific, Stockton

Today's Quarterfinals

Moorpark (25-5) vs.

Foothill (25-9), 2 p.m.

Glendale (23-10) vs.

San Jose City (30-5), 6 p.m.

L.A. Southwest (27-7) vs.

American River (29-7), 4 p.m.

Saddleback (32-2) vs.

Diablo Valley (26-9), 8 p.m.

Semifinals are Friday at 6 and 8 p.m. Final is Saturday at 8.

*

WOMEN

At Delta College, Stockton

Today Quarterfinals

Ventura (30-4) vs.

Lassen (26-5), 6 p.m.

Riverside (27-9) vs.

Fresno City (29-6), 4 p.m.

Mt. San Antonio (29-5) vs.

Contra Costa (31-5), 2 p.m.

Cerritos (28-5) vs.

San Jose City (29-4), 8 p.m.

Semifinals are Friday at 6 and 8 p.m. at Delta College. Final is Saturday at 5:30 at Pacific.

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