During the early portion of the season, Rolling Hills Prep's boys basketball team has been seeing opposing teams sending double and sometimes triple teams at 6-foot-8 center JT Tan.
Friday night was no different, as Mira Costa double-teamed Tan off the bat. But it was the adjustments Tan and the Huskies made over the course of the game before hanging on for a 50-47 victory in the Mira Costa PacShores semifinals at Mira Costa High.
RH Prep turned a four-point halftime lead into a nine-point margin following Chris Koon's coast-to-coast layup with 5:52 to play in the third quarter, but Mira Costa battled back. Koon had 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Lucas Hobbs' 3-pointer made it a 30-27 game with 3:02 left in the third, and the senior guard hit three straight free throws to keep the Mustangs deficit at three before Tan's layup gave RH Prep a five-point lead heading into the fourth.
A pair of RH Prep turnovers on its first two possessions of the fourth gave Mira Costa life. The Mustangs made it a 38-37 game following Carson Carey's 3-pointer, but Mira Costa was never able to take the lead in the second half.
"After the first three quarters, we started to adapt to (Mira Costa's) plays. Our defense won us this game," Tan said. "All we work on in practice is defense, and that's what wins games."
Tan, who led all scorers with 20 points and grabbed seven rebounds, converted a three-point play with 2:38 to play that gave RH Prep a 46-42 lead. After the junior center converted a pair of free throws with 35 seconds left, Mira Costa made things interesting.
Hobbs hit a 3-pointer with 25.5 seconds left, and after he picked up the rebound on the defensive end, his final two attempts were off the mark as the final buzzer sounded.
"(Friday night) was the first time all year we hit big shots in big moments," Mira Costa coach Neal Perlmutter said. "We haven't been in a lot of close games. This game was a gut-check, and our guys answered the call."
Hobbs led Mira Costa with 16 points, including 12 in the second half. Henry Householter added nine, including seven in the first half. Vaughn Flowers finished with 11 points for RH Prep.
But the game belonged to Tan, who broke away from the frustration of being swarmed by Mira Costa's pesky defense to help RH Prep's offense find a groove.
"After a few possessions, we started to adapt," Tan said. "We just had to spread the floor."