Mission Prep’s Emily Lucier hadn’t seen much court time entering Friday night’s game against cross-town rival San Luis Obispo. The junior suffered a concussion in a preseason tournament and then came down with a case of mono. She missed three weeks and was still working off the rust when league play started last week.
But after Friday’s wild finish, it’s safe to say Lucier is back.
Lucier became the unlikely hero in the final seconds against SLO High when she banked in a 3-point shot to lift Mission Prep to a 46-43 win.
“Last thing I told her when I put her back in was, ‘You are going to make the play to win the game. It’s your opportunity to welcome yourself back to the team.’ And that’s what she did,” Mission Prep head coach Andrew Richardson said.
The game had all the staples of a rivalry game. The fouls were hard, the score was close and the crowd was crazed. It was the SLO High section making most of the noise in the first half when the Tigers jumped out to an early 21-12 lead behind Whitney Burns. The senior had nine first-half points, but an 8-0 run right before halftime by Mission Prep made it 21-19 at the break. In the third quarter, the scoring of Julia Carney and Ani Boncich and the Royals full-court defense led them back into the game.
The teams traded baskets until the fourth quarter when Jennifer “Boo” Laird stepped to the free-throw line with 12 seconds left and the game tied at 43-43. Larid missed both free-throws, but a scramble for the ball wound up in the hands of Kyra Harris.
Richardson called a timeout with 9.9 seconds left and drew up a play for Larid to take the last shot. But things didn’t go as planned. SLO High’s Jenna Lee, who played for Mission Prep last season, tipped the in-bounds pass and blew up the play. Mission Prep was able to collect the ball, and three quick passes later Boncich found Lucier wide open on the wing, and she let it fly.
Lucier said she knew right when the ball left her hand that it was too long. Luckily it was long in the right place, and the ball bounced off the glass and in.
“I cant even explain it,” Lucier said of the mob that swarmed her on court after the shot. “Wins like that are what keep us motivated and really gets us through the season. The whole fourth quarter was really tight. Our fans really helped us though. The rivalry is so lit.”
Lucier and Carney both had 12 points in the game. Burns finished with a game-high 13 points for SLO High.
“Those are your rivalry games, memories you have for your entire life,” Richardson said. “This is what I hate the most about coaching is that I don’t get to play in those games anymore.”
Mission Prep boys win in rout
The boys game tipped off a short time later with the crowd still riding the high of the dramatic finish. But the energy soon faded in what turned out to be a lopsided 70-40 Mission Prep win.
Carter Gran scored 12 point in the third quarter, all on 3-point shots, to finish with a game-high 19 points for a Mission Prep team coming off a upset road loss to Righetti on Wednesday.
“It was big,” Gran said of the win against SLO High. “We needed a bounce-back game. Especially before St. Joe’s.”
Kyle Colvin, the Royals top scorer, finished with 17 points but also played distributor.
“Colvin got me some good looks. I was pretty hyped,” Gran said. “He told me to keep shooting and I was having fun.”
On defense Mission Prep was able to hold SLO High’s Seth Moore, who was averaging around 17 points per game to just seven points. Nate Higgins led the Tigers with 13 points.
“Vince (Ricigliano) and Brayden (Corona) did a really good job on Seth,” Gran said. “They locked him down pretty much all game.”
The win helped Mission Prep keep pace with Atascadero and St. Joseph. All three teams won Friday night and are tied for first place atop the PAC 8, setting up the biggest game of the season so far for Mission Prep on Tuesday at home against St. Joseph.
To get a win over the Knights, Mission Prep head coach Terrence Harris said his team needs another defensive gem like it had Friday night, especially with the talented scorers that make up the St. Joseph roster.
“I liked the focus the energy and the effort on the defensive end,” Harris said. “I thought our guys flew around for loose balls, for 50-50 balls, and that has to be the staple of who we are.”