As Mission Prep High boys basketball coach Terrance Harris watched what was as a 16-point advantage dwindle to three points, he looked his team in the eyes and preached exactly what he had been all year.
Stay humble, stay hungry.
The words of encouragement worked. Cal Poly-bound forward Zach Allmon scored 29 points and grabbed 23 points against Santa Clara on Monday night at the Mission Prep Christmas Classic, helping the Royals to a 65-56 win over the Saints to advance to tonight’s final against Cypress Bay.
That slogan has been the anthem for the Royals (9-1), who early in the season look to be on the fast track for replicating last season’s run that ended with a 86-72 loss to top-seeded Flintridge Prep in the CIF-Southern Section Division 5AA semifinals.
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“We are off to a 9-1 start, but we talk all the time about staying humble and staying hungry,” Harris said. “We think that we have a team that has some promise, but just because we have talent doesn’t mean we are going to be successful. We have to work hard every day in order to have the success that we want.”
Early on, that success came easy. It wasn’t until there was 5:30 minutes left in the first quarter that Santa Clara got its first bucket, making it 8-2. The Royals would quickly answer back, however, as Andy Rowley knocked down a 3-pointer on the Royals’ next possession to up the lead to nine points.
It remained pretty much that way the entire first quarter, as the Royals found themselves leading 23-7 through one period.
Santa Clara answered with a flurry of buckets in the second quarter, clawing all the back to come within a 34-26 deficit at the break.
“We sort of lost some defensive focus down the stretch,” Harris said. “And really, our defense creates our offense, so it kind of slowed the game down for us.”
The Saints stayed persistent in the second half, and were able to cut the Royals’ lead to as little as three points with 1:40 left in the period.
But Allmon answered back in a big way, sinking a put-back before freshman Quinton Adlesh drained a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give the Royals a 49-40 lead heading into the fourth.
“We came out fighting, and then kind of got a little bit arrogant and thought we had it for the rest of the game,” Allmon said. “We just had to stay fighting the entire game.”
That’s exactly what the Royals did. Rowley hit a layup for the first bucket of the second half, and the Royals never looked back.
Rowley finished the game with 18 points, five steals and six assists, helping the team to its first ever trip to the final of the tournament it hosts. The team, though, has its eyes set on making a much bigger run as the season progresses.
“We had a good season last year, but the thing I love about our kids is that they aren’t satisfied with a good season,” Harris said. “The ultimate goal is to win a championship and that’s what we play for, every day we need to work with that mentality.”
Brentwood 73, San Luis Obispo 67
Chandler Torres scored 21 points but the Tigers fell at the Mission Prep Christmas Classic.
Scott Inman added 15 points, and Blake Schapazian had 12 for San Luis Obispo (5-2).
The Tigers finish play at the tournament today at 9 a.m.
Arroyo Grande 46, Carpinteria 40
The Eagles combined for eight 3-pointers to down the host of the Carpinteria Tournament.
Gunnar Gomez led all scorers with 18 points, including five 3-pointers. Matt Willkomm was the next closest scorer with eight points.
Jackson Zimmerman scored four points, grabbed 10 rebounds and had five assists.
Brent VanderVeen had three points and seven rebounds.
Rio Mesa 66, Morro Bay 61
The Pirates were tied heading into the fourth quarter but couldn’t pull out a win in the semifinals of the Carpinteria Tournament.
Bryce Owens scored 20 points, including hitting six 3-pointers, for Morro Bay (8-6).
“It came down to some free throws and who had the ball last, basically. It was a hard-fought game,” Morro Bay coach Dave Yamate said.
Luke Munds added 16 points, Scott Milligan had 11 points and seven rebounds and Edward Griley had nine rebounds for the Pirates, who will play in the third-place game against Channel Islands today.
Lompoc 53, Templeton 52
Lompoc hit a 3-pointer with 11 seconds left in the game to finish a rally over the Eagles.
“This was a tough one. You have to give Lompoc credit. They were down by five with 48 seconds left. We lost by one, that’s a tough one to swallow,” Templeton coach Fred Price said.
Andy Garrettson led the Eagles (3-8, 1-1 Los Padres League) with 17 points. Casey Dakin added eight points, Evan Peterson had seven points and five rebounds and Jackson Wheeler and Eric Fragione had six assists each for Templeton.
North County Christian 39, Alpaugh 28
Daniel Katches posted a double-double in the Crusaders’ road win.
Katches had 13 points and 11 rebounds for North County Christian (3-7, 1-1 Coast Valley League). He also had five steals and three blocks.
GIRLS BASKETBALLNorth County Christian 46, Alpaugh 16
Mandy Legault had 13 points and Brianna Feld scored 10 for the Crusaders.
Aliyah Morrison had 15 rebounds, seven steals and scored four points for North County Christian (3-0, 2-0 CVL).