Midway through the first quarter Friday night, Mission Prep junior Quinton Adlesh pulled up for a shot well behind the 3-point line and well in front of Righetti High’s zone defense.
The ball hit the front of the rim and shot upward two feet before eventually settling inside the hoop.
It was that kind of start for the Royals and their standout scorer.
Adlesh finished with a game-high 26 points, and Mission Prep defeated Righetti 62-42 to advance to the Elite Division finals at the Mission Prep Christmas Classic.
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“We came out gunning,” said Adlesh, who knocked down three of the Royals’ seven 3-pointers. “Coach tells us that he’s fine with us shooting 3s as long as they’re in rhythm and within the offense. We have a lot of shooters.”
The Warriors (3-3) used their length on the perimeter and a 2-3 zone to force Mission Prep into long shots, and the Royals accepted the challenge in a breakout first quarter. Mission Prep hit five 3-pointers in the frame, jumping out to a 28-16 advantage.
“We really wanted to execute against the zone, and I thought we did a really good job in that first quarter,” Mission Prep coach Terrance Harris said. “There’s a couple shots I didn’t like, but for the most part, we took shots in our offense.”
The Royals also brought it on the defensive end, using zones, switches and double teams to limit Righetti’s star forward Cameron Walker to 17 points — nine of which came in the fourth quarter.
“We wanted to make him work,” Harris said of the 6-foot-7 junior. “He’s a great athlete … and we wanted to make him more of a perimeter player than getting points in the paint.”
Senior Ian Stake had 10 points for the Royals (6-2), and sophomore Kerney Lane scored eight points and pulled down eight rebounds.
“This game meant a lot to us because it’s a local game,” Stake said. “We really want to win those ones.”
Righetti went exclusively to man-to-man defense following the first-quarter outburst, but the Royals stayed patient and Adlesh continued to score at will.
The 6-foot guard — who has at least 20 points in seven of eight games — scored 11 in the third quarter, slashing past Walker to the bucket as well as hitting another deep trey.
Mission Prep had just four turnovers until late in the fourth quarter when both teams cleared their benches.
“We have to deal with teams that pressure us, so we practice a lot on … being strong on the ball,” Adlesh said. “We just stuck to the basics, and it worked out.”
Mission Prep will play Grandview (Colo.) in the Elite Division finals today at 7 p.m. The Warriors will face PAC 7 rival Atascadero in the third-place game at 4 p.m. It’s the second straight year Mission Prep has made the Elite Division finals.
“We’ve played some good teams so far; Grandview might be the best that we’re going to face,” Harris said. “They’re very athletic, and they execute their stuff very well.”
While efficient offense sparked the Royals, a lackadaisical approach doomed the Greyhounds early against the visiting Grandview Wolves.
Atascadero (7-2) couldn’t find a rhythm for much of the game en route to a 65-57 defeat.
“We weren’t running our offense at all,” coach Matt Knudson said. “Third quarter; we came out tough, but then we fell asleep again.”
Robbie Berwick finished with 19 points, and Kevin Woodard registered 22 rebounds, as the Greyhounds cut a 30-22 halftime deficit to 39-34 heading into the fourth.
But the Wolves (6-1) scored the first eight points of the frame, and Atascadero didn’t register a field goal until less than three minutes remaining in the game.
“Going into the game, we were excited, but I thought we took them lightly,” said senior Connor Kim, who finished with 12 points. “I don’t think we were focused enough on this game; we were focused on the championship. We just need to take it one game at a time.”
Knudson elected to let the fourth quarter play out, and did not call a timeout until a fast-break layup by KyRon Allen made the score 57-42 with 1:57 to play.
“They know what they need to do,” Knudson said of his team. “Four or five of those kids are three-year starters. If they don’t know by now, they’re not going to.”
Allen finished with 18 points for Grandview, and teammate Keanu Flores had a game-high 23 points, including five 3-pointers.
Atascadero got to the foul line for 14 shots in the fourth quarter, converting 10 and extending the game.
A putback bucket by Woodard pulled the Greyhounds to within five with 16.5 seconds remaining, but Flores made the final three free throws to end the comeback and Atascadero’s five-game winning streak.
“We were just out of synch,” Kim said. “It wasn’t how we want to play or how we usually play.”