Midway through the first quarter, after Matthew Blaney had just hit the fourth of what would become the Mission Prep boys basketball team’s 13 3-pointers in a 70-46 win on Monday at Arroyo Grande, Royals coach Terrance Harris leaned over to the scorer’s table and said, “We might shoot a 2-pointer sometime in the second half.”
With the way his team was hitting its mark from behind the arc, the only logical response was: Why bother?
Blaney finished with six triples, Quinton Adlesh made five more en route to a 30-point performance, and Mission Prep ended the hometown Eagles’ five-game league winning streak with a sultry display of outside shooting.
“Early in the game, they shot the ball well,” Arroyo Grande coach Ryan Glanville said. “That, combined with our turnovers and we didn’t really block out well ... it creates a situation that gets out of control in a hurry.”
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Blaney, a 6-foot-5 junior, finished with 24 points in three quarters, as the San Luis Obispo High transfer made just his second start with the Royals.
“Usually, when I hit my first shot, I don’t even get nervous,” he said. “I get into the zone where I’ve just got to score, and I don’t even think about it anymore.”
Mission Prep (14-5, 7-1 PAC 8) opened the game with four 3-pointers — two from Blaney and one each from Brandon Jones and Kyle Stewart — to build a 12-7 lead.
Then Adlesh started to join the fun, getting his three points the traditional way with a layup plus a foul in the final minute of the first quarter. The Columbia-bound point guard scored 14 points in the second quarter alone to put the Royals out in front 39-22 at the break.
“Part of me wants to make sure the guys stay aggressive and don’t get complacent relying on the 3,” coach Terrance Harris said. “But we did shoot it very well, and the guys played free tonight. I liked it.”
Cobe Williams finished with 14 points for Arroyo Grande (10-10, 5-3), which had strung together wins over the rest of the PAC 8 after opening with losses to Mission Prep and Righetti.
With the Warriors — who are tied with Mission Prep atop the leaderboard at 7-1 — on the schedule Wednesday, Glanville said his team doesn’t have time to sulk on the 24-point loss.
“The thing with the PAC 8 is there’s no time to sit around and worry about it,” he said. “So as far as losing by 2 or losing by 20, it doesn’t matter to me. It all goes back to the things we need to work on and get better.”
The rigors of league play are new to the Royals this year, but they opened up a three-game week with their fourth PAC 8 victory of 24 or more points.
Mission Prep was two games removed from its first league loss, a 66-50 setback at Righetti that dropped the Royals out of sole possession for first place.
“More than anything, we learned we have a battle on our hands every single night,” Harris said. “I think we knew that, but it was really a wakeup call.”
Following the loss to the Warriors, Harris inserted Blaney into the lineup, and he scored 16 points against his former team Friday.
“I have a lot of friends on that team, so it was great to see them,” Blaney said of the Tigers. “I had a fun game, and I hope that game helps us going into the second part of the season.”
Blaney had to sit out the Royals’ first 12 games due to transfer rules, but he has been the spark plug Harris described him as since he’s been on the floor.
“It was tough (sitting out), because there was some times I just wanted to go out there and just shoot the ball on nights where we weren’t shooting well,” Blaney said. “It was hard not being able to suit up and be there. I was there, of course, but not out on the court.”
Now that he is on the court, Blaney’s high-arcing 3 and close-range touch could be key ingredients down the stretch for a Royals team ranked fifth in Division 4AA and looking for its fifth straight trip to the CIF-Southern Section divisional semifinals.
He had five crucial points in a late stretch against St. Joseph, and his back-to-back strong starts indicate he could be another worry for opposing teams already keying in on Adlesh.
“Matt’s a special player,” Harris said. “He’s working really hard, and as the season’s gone on, we’ve found a way to get him meshed with the team.
“It’s hard when you don’t get to play the first 12 games, but we’ve found a rhythm with him on the court and we’ve really benefitted from what he brings to the table no doubt about it.”