By the fourth quarter, the Mission Prep boys basketball team had a comfortable cushion in its crosstown rivalry game at San Luis Obispo High on Friday night.
But then, Cal Poly signee Zach Allmon came across an opportunity to make the eventual win official. He timed a missed layup just right, using his 6-foot-7 frame to turn it into a tip-in dunk in traffic. It was hard for the opponents to challenge that.
That play highlighted his night, as he scored 16 of his 18 points in the second half and pulled down 12 rebounds to carry the Royals to a 55-40 comeback win and some bragging rights in a game featuring San Luis Obispo’s two high schools.
The teams have been going at it since 1949, according to the trophy given to the winners.
“His dunk changed our whole motivation,” said junior guard Andy Rowley, who finished with 14 points and five assists. “We had our fans behind us. We had everybody in our crowd behind us. When Zach plays big like that, it makes our whole team play up to his level.”
Allmon’s dunk allowed the Royals (19-4 overall) a 43-32 advantage two minutes into the final quarter.
Early on, it didn’t look promising for Mission Prep, which opened the game with a 10-2 deficit. The Royals had trouble defending San Luis Obispo’s shooting that resulted in eight 3-pointers, with Matt Moore (13 points), Blake Shapazian (eight points) and Chandler Torres (eight points) finishing with two each.
San Luis Obispo (10-10) led 23-21 at halftime.
“In the first half, they were killing us with 3s,” Allmon said. “In the locker room, we talked about not giving them no space because they’re all shooters and they all can make it from anywhere on the court.”
The Royals backed up that approach by going on an 11-2 run to open the second half to take a 32-25 lead. They outscored the Tigers 18-6 in the third quarter.
“They kept up with the tight defense,” San Luis Obispo coach Jim Thompson said. “At that point, when you’re playing catch up, you need your shots to fall. We didn’t get any type of momentum going. We just weren’t very successful with our shots in the second half.”
The Tigers were looking to carry the momentum they built after beating PAC 7 foe Atascadero 75-46 two days earlier. They showered the first half with four 3-pointers but only made one in the third quarter. Their three other long-range shots came in the fourth quarter, when Mission Prep had control.
Quinton Adlesh added 11 points for Mission Prep and had both of the Royals’ 3-pointers.
“We started executing our plays,” Rowley said. “In the first half, we got caught up playing their game. In the second half, we started playing our game. We slowed down and started executing, waited for our screens, knocked down shots. We just played harder.”