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DIVISION V: MONTCLAIR PREP'S WIN STREAK ENDS AT 27 MOUNTIES' SEASON HALTED AFTER THEIR FIRST DEFEAT S.F. CHR. 53, MONT. PREP 41.

Byline: Gerry Gittelson Staff Writer

When it was over, Eshaya Murhpy stood alone at midcourt, tears of sadness streaming down her face.

After 27 consecutive girls' basketball victories, the Montclair Prep star sophomore finally learned what it's like on the other side.

Sante Fe Christian of San Diego ended Montclair Prep's dream season, beating the Mounties 53-41 in the first round of the CIF Division V state playoffs Tuesday before a boisterous but disappointed crowd at Montclair Prep.

``This is very hard,'' said Murphy, who scored 25 points, but just 2 in the first 10 minutes, when the Mounties fell behind 27-10. ``I guess we just didn't have it today. We weren't ready to play. It's sad to end like this. I'm really drained. I've been giving it my all the whole season, and I think my body just got tired.''

As good as Murphy was, she met her match in Santa Fe Christian's Brandi Cullato, who scored 36 points, 26 in the first half.

Cullato, a 5-foot-7 senior who came in averaging 32.5 points per game compared to Murphy's 29, is the state's second all-time scorer behind Cheryl Miller and is headed to the University of San Diego. She burned the Mounties (27-1) on driving layups and 20-foot jumpers and also converted 8 of 11 free throws.

Cullato guarded Murphy in the game, but Murphy didn't guard Cullato, except for a short stretch to start the second half.

``I don't know why Murphy didn't guard me,'' Cullato said. ``I was getting a lot of open looks and my shots were falling. Most other teams use a gimmick defense and box-and-one me. I guess they figured they didn't match up well that way.''

Murphy scored the first basket of the game on a steal and driving layup in the opening seconds but wasn't heard from again until two minutes into the second quarter. At that point, Montclair Prep had 10 fouls and 10 points.

Cullato didn't a lot of help from her teammates, but at least she had some. Jasmine Wesley (14 points) was the only Mounties player other than Murphy to score until Theadora Holmes' basket with eight seconds remaining in the game.

In the second half, Santa Fe Christian (23-9) fizzled a bit, but so did the Mounties. Wesley picked up her fourth foul with 3:20 remaining in the third quarter and Montclair Prep down by 16. The Mounties never got closer than 12.

It wasn't a bad season for Montclair Prep, just a bad ending. The Mounties won the Southern Section championship with a victory over Brethren Christian on Saturday.
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Mar 7, 2001
Words:435
Previous Article:DIVISION III: SIAM, H.-W. TAKE LIBERTY WOLVERINES SURVIVE SCARE H.-W. 41, LIBERTY 36.
Next Article:DAILY UPDATE.


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