Mission Prep’s basketball team had a daunting task in a guarding 7-foot center Kameron Rooks who plays for Mission Hills High of San Marcos.
The Royals (6-3) managed to contain Rooks to 15 points in the game, and to stay within an 11-point margin at the half.
But ultimately, the Cardinal big man and the rest of his team were too much and Mission Hills won the semifinal in the Elite Bracket of the Mission Prep Christmas Classic 62-38.
“Anytime a team has a 7-footer that’s going to present a challenge,” said Terrance Harris, the Royals coach. “He was a tough matchup for us defensively. I thought they did a good job of taking us out of our sets on offense as well.”
Rooks, who has drawn recruiting interest from colleges including Arizona and Cal, helped to draw the Royals’ 6-5 center Conner Woolpert into foul trouble early in the game.
Woolpert finished with a team-high 13 points but fouled out with 5:21 in the fourth quarter and had to sit for most of the second quarter with three fouls.
“I thought Conner did a good job and played well through foul trouble,” Harris said. “Overall, they played tough defensive and forced us out of our sets.”
The Royals used a combination of players to try to stop Rooks, who was the go-to guy on dump passes to the post.
Tyler Baty, a 6-foot forward, started the game guarding Rooks, swatting the ball away from him on the first possession.
But Rooks was able to gain possession on other plays, getting second and third
attempts on missed shots to fall.
Junior guard Patrick Laird was able to penetrate and get good looks in the first half but had a
few shots rattle out before converting on runners. Laird had six points in the game.
Woolpert picked up his fourth foul late in the third quarter and Harris chose to keep him in the game. Woolpert sunk a three-pointer to pull the Royals within 43-30 in the final quarter, but he fouled out moments later.
With a smaller lineup, Andy Rowley made a three to pull within 43-33 with about five minutes left in the contest, but that was as close as the Royals got.
Rowley, who had eight points in the game, took a fast break to the basket and appeared to be hit on the arm at about the 4:30 mark but the foul wasn’t called.
The Cardinal took the ball down court after the no-call on Rowley and converted on a layup. Mission Hills had several breakaway baskets to pull away as the Royals grew frustrated, leading to a hard personal foul on guard Kibret Woldemichel late in the game. Woldemichel had 15 points in the game.
Mission Prep plays against Taft at 4 p.m. today on its home court. Mission Hills will play Miramonte in the Elite Bracket championship at 7 p.m. and the National Division bracket championship will be at 8:30 p.m. between Seattle Prep and Bishop Montgomery — a team ranked 15th in the country.