Dealing Westmont its first loss of the season, Montini was feeling it.
As the clock drew down at the end of the first quarter, two defenders crowded Broncos senior Matt Morrissey as he launched a prayer 3-pointer that splashed through.
"You've just always got to have the mentality that it's going to go in, you've got to be ready to take your shot -- and know it's going in," Morrissey said.
Montini needed no luck Thursday, only some of its best offense and defense this season to defeat Westmont 76-55 in the semifinals of the ICCP/Westmont Christmas Classic in Westmont. Montini (10-3) moves to the championship at 7:30 p.m. Friday against host IC Catholic Prep, a 41-22 winner over Christ the King.
"Offensively, everything was clicking," said Broncos guard Anthony Thompson, whose 17 points followed Morrissey's 19.
"Other games we'll get the shots we want, but they won't go in. But today we was getting the shots that we want and everything was going in, so I'll say this is our best game that we've played yet," Thompson said.
Westmont (11-1) lacked its top player and sole starter above 6 feet, Caden Anderson, who had been ejected Wednesday for an infraction Sentinels coach Craig Etheridge felt was unjustified.
That left starters Troy Schlicher, Matt O'Leary, Tyreke Winston, Michael Thompson and Ben Ledwon -- ranging from 5-6 to 5-11 -- shy of the likes of the 6-5 Morrissey, Fred Stokes and, off the bench for 10 points and 8 rebounds, Yousuf Mitchell.
"The coaches and I talked before the game," Etheridge said, "we wanted them to have to shoot a lot of jump shots and we needed them to obviously miss a high percent of those to give us a good opportunity. And they didn't miss very many."
Nope. Closing the first quarter on a 12-6 run for a 24-12 lead, Montini made 9 of 14 baskets while pressure defense forced six turnovers. The Broncos repeated that production while forcing five more turnovers to post a 47-30 halftime lead.
For the game Montini shot 29 of 48 from the floor and outrebounded the Sentinels 31-16.
"You're trying your best and they've got length and they've got shooters. They use them well," said O'Leary, who joined Schlicher, Thompson and lefty slasher Winston all between 10 and 12 points.
Westmont went to a zone in the second half to successfully muddy the pace. The Sentinels forced Montini into 16 total turnovers, earning Broncos coach Daryl Thomas' praise for their resiliency. Friday Thomas hopes to praise the Broncos for their achievement.
"Most kids don't even get an opportunity to play for a championship," Thomas said. "To have an opportunity, let's not waste it."