Sometimes boring, sometimes slow, and sometimes downright ugly.
Life in league play isn’t always about margin of victory or style points, and the Mission Prep boys basketball team appears to be adjusting just fine.
Having one of the area’s best sharpshooters certainly helps, too.
Senior point guard Quinton Adlesh scored a game-high 26 points, including five 3-pointers, and the Royals watched all of a 13-point lead disappear before surging back ahead for a 51-40 victory over visiting St. Joseph on Wednesday night to stay perfect in the PAC 8.
“It was kind of a slow game, probably pretty boring to watch,” said Adlesh, whose three-point play sparked a 10-0 run early in the fourth after the Knights tied the score at 38. “I don’t think we’ve played two games alike in league.”
The only similarity has been in the win column.
Junior forward Matthew Blaney scored five of his eight points during that decisive stretch, hitting a 3-pointer on a dish from Adlesh before grabbing a missed 3 for a putback to make it 46-38 with 1:15 to go.
The Knights “were running and hitting some shots in the third quarter, and that’s how it came to be tied,” Blaney said. “But we picked ourselves back up and were able to get that lead back.”
Sophomore forward Kyle Stewart added eight points — seven in the first half as Mission Prep (11-4, 4-0) forced eight first-half turnovers to lead 30-17 at the break.
“I thought our guys did a pretty good job on defense minus a few mental lapses,” Royals coach Terrance Harris said. “They were dialed in, they executed the game plan, they played together as a team, and to hold that team to 40 points is a great victory for us.”
On the strength of point guard JoJo Walker, who leads St. Joseph (12-5, 2-2) in scoring at 16.8 points per game, the Knights didn’t turn the ball over in the third quarter and outscored Mission Prep 15-8 in the frame.
Walker, a 6-foot sophomore from Puerto Rico, scored seven in the frame and finished with a team-high 14 points. Fellow sophomore guard Scott McBeth hit back-to-back jumpers early in the fourth that brought St. Joseph back from its double-digit halftime deficit.
“They’re kids and they’re going to make mistakes and hopefully learn from them,” said Knights coach Tom Mott, a former athletic director and coach at Mission Prep. “I think tonight we learned from some of those mistakes, and came out in the second half a little more focused, taking care of the ball and getting better shots.”
As St. Joseph made its tying run, the Royals failed to keep the offensive rhythm they had built in the early quarters.
Until Blaney’s five-point spurt, a third-quarter 3-pointer by Carter Gran was the only bucket from a Mission Prep player besides Adlesh.
“I don’t know if people were deferring,” Adlesh said, “but I know I’m a leader and I’m a guy people look to. I’m willing to take that on, and I think those guys are just as willing and just as capable to step up if they need to.”
Harris said part of the offensive game plan was to slow the game down and make sure every shot taken was the right one.
“Sometimes to a fault we were too tentative,” he said. “It came back to bite us for a little bit, but I’m incredibly proud of the poise this group showed.”
Brandon Jones finished with just four points — all in the first quarter — but stayed on Walker’s hip in the halfcourt to not let the speedy guard penetrate and create.
Gabrys Sadaunykas, a junior from Lithuania and the Knights’ second-leading scorer, was held scoreless.
The Royals travel to Paso Robles on Friday before a showdown on the road next Wednesday at Righetti — the only other unbeaten in the PAC 8 and the biggest obstacle between Mission Prep and a title in its first league season.
“It’s tough because we still have 10 (league games) left,” Harris said. “I’m glad to get off to the start that we’ve gotten off to, but one of the things we talk about is the fact that you don’t get everybody’s best shot once — you get it twice. So we know that we’re still in for a battle.”