After Mission Prep limited Grandview to just two field goals in the second quarter, the Wolves returned the favor at a much more crucial juncture.
The team from Colorado held the Royals to just five points in the fourth quarter Saturday, outscoring the host team by 16 in the final quarter to win the Elite Division championship game, 52-47, at the Mission Prep Christmas Classic.
Mission Prep (6-3) led by as many as 16 in the third quarter and 11 at the start of the fourth, but the Wolves scored 18 of the first 20 points in the frame before icing the game from the free-throw line.
“We did an excellent job for three quarters stopping them in transition,” Mission Prep coach Terrance Harris said. “In the fourth quarter, we did not do a good job. We didn’t have a good defensive quarter.”
Down by three with 22 seconds left, the Royals top scorer, Quinton Adlesh, had a look at back-to-back 3-pointers, but neither would fall.
The Wolves utilized a diamond-and-1 defense to shut down the standout junior, employing one defender on Adlesh while the other four covered areas of the court.
“(Adlesh) is such a dangerous player, and that defense really got us going,” Grandview coach Gary Childress said. “It’s a tough team to play diamond-and-1 against, but it catches everyone off guard a bit.”
The defense was effective, as Adlesh was held to just one point after a nine-point first quarter.
“We needed someone else to step up,” senior Ben Covington said. “We just need to learn from it, and make sure we can pull out the next close one.”
The loss marks the third straight year the Royals have been to the finals of their home tournament, Harris said, but still have yet to capture the championship.
“I think this was probably our best opportunity to win it in terms of how we controlled the first three quarters,” Harris said. “So, it’s definitely a disappointment not to win, but everything is about building toward the future.”
Brandon Jones finished with a team-high 11 points, and Ian Stake and Kerney Lane both scored nine.
“Our bigs are battling right now and keeping us in games,” said Harris, whose team won the rebounding battle 31-28. “They are nine games into playing big varsity minutes, and they are doing an outstanding job.”
KyRon Allen finished with a game-high 13 points for the Wolves, and joined fellow 6-foot-2 senior Devon Brown as the two defenders who keyed in on Adlesh.
Mission Prep led 15-11 after one quarter and 27-15 at halftime.
“There’s a lot of disappointment,” Harris said. “If my team wasn’t disappointed in losing, I would be disappointed in them.
“We realize this is a part of the journey, and we’re going to try and stay positive. If we’re better in January and February because of some of these tough games in December, it’s all worth it.”