MIDDLE VILLAGE, N.Y. — Duke signee R.J. Barrett scored 33 points, including 18 in the first half, to lead top-ranked Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.) to an 87-82 defeat of No. 22 Lone Peak (Highland, Utah) in Thursday’s final quarterfinal at the GEICO High School Nationals.
Lone Peak’s lone shot against the Eagles was to come out big and then keep hitting threes. The Knights (23-4) led for a total of 16 seconds, then took the lead again with just over a minute left against Montverde (32-0).
Lone Peak kept hitting treys, at first to make things respectable, then to give Montverde coach Kevin Boyle angina.
Steven Ashworth, a Utah State signee who is going on a two-year Mormon mission, had no points in the first half, but made 29 points in the second half to lead the Knights, including seven three-pointers. Lone Peak made 19 of 43 three-point attempts as a team.
“I don’t know if I’ve ever not scored in the first half,” Ashworth said. “It was disappointing. I am quick to forget, so I didn’t know if I had no points or not. Coach tells me to go out and play your game. Whenever I was open, I shot it. I think the bigger thing than us realizing we were in the game was the other team realizing we were in the game.”
“I don’t know if they could shoot better than that,” Boyle said. “We know (Ashworth) was their leading scorer and we were aware of him. They made some really long threes and quick threes. You only see that type of thing in this type of tournament once in a while.”
The most crucial mistake in the game came with under a minute left. Lone Peak’s Chandry Ross had just hit a three-pointer to put his team up 82-81. Barrett hit one of two free throws to tie it down the other end. With Montverde trapping, Ashworth tried to call a time out, but since the Knights were out of them, it was a technical and Montverde had the ball back. Barrett hit one of two free throws and the Eagles held on for the win.
“I think I’ve got like 12 assistants and none of them told Steven we were out of time outs,” Lone Peak coach David Evans cracked. I’ve got a great group and great kids. They showed that starting in the second half, no starting in the second quarter.”
Montverde advances to a semifinal matchup with No. 3-ranked Findlay Prep (5 p.m. ESPN2). It should be interesting as the Pilots came the closest as anyone before Lone Peak to beating the Eagles, losing 69-67 to Montverde in the Montverde Invitational in January.
Follow Jim Halley on Twitter at: @jimhalley