Not surprisingly, Mission Prep’s Zach Allmon was the main focus of the opposing boys basketball team’s defense. That’s the price of being a 6-foot-7 center who’s a future Cal Poly player.
That strategy worked. He scored only 11 points.
Allmon had plenty of help, as Andy Rowley broke down the defense with his penetration to score 14 points, Quinton Adlesh guided the offense with 11 points and seven assists and Patrick Laird came off the bench to contribute 14 points in the Royals’ 61-43 win over visiting Desert in the second round of the CIF-Southern Section Division 5AA playoffs on Friday night.
Mission Prep, the No. 4 seed, will host either Santa Clara or Bloomington Christian on Tuesday in the quarterfinals. The Royals are one win away from reaching last season’s pinnacle. This time, they want to go even further.
“Last year, we got bumped out in the semifinals and that was the worst thing,” said Allmon, who also had 15 rebounds and a thunderous tip-in dunk that rattled the shot clock high above the backboard.
“This year, we wanna make it to the semifinals and the final to prove that we are the team to beat. Last year, we were a great team. “But this year, we want it even more than last year.”
The Royals (23-5) showed their determination at the start of the second half, when they turned a two-point lead into something far more unreachable. Mission Prep went on an 8-0 run that was capped by Allmon’s dunk, making it 34-24 — their first double-digit lead of the game.
“We talked at halftime about being more aggressive and just brining our energy level up,” Mission Prep coach Terrance Harris said. “We did that at the second half, right from the start. I think that was exactly what needed to happen.”
The Royals took advantage of Desert’s 2-3 zone defense that collapsed on Allmon and was strong on the fastbreak, highlighted by a 15-1 run to open the fourth quarter that put the Royals ahead 58-34 for the their largest margin of the game.
“They ran a 2-3 zone, so there were more guys down low, putting pressure on me,” Allmon said. “It opened the door for guys like (Laird). He scored a lot of points tonight. They focused on me, which allowed me to create for my teammates and open the door for them to get their points.”
Desert (18-5), which traveled from Edwards Air Force Base, made only six field goals after halftime. And its top scorer, Quelon Hopkins, finished with 13 points, with nine of them in the first two quarters. He was his team’s lone double-digit contributor.
The Scorpions made it interesting in the second quarter, when they turned a seven-point deficit into a 24-22 lead with 1:03 thanks to a 10-0 run.
But the Royals answered back, thanks to a short jumper by Rowley and a fast-break layup from Laird for a 26-24 halftime edge.
And Mission Prep never looked back, while holding the Scorpions to just 19 points in the second half.
“For us to create,” Laird said, “we had to run fastbreaks and get open shots that way. We adjusted at halftime and we came out with a new offense to go against the zone. That’s what we did in the second half and that’s how we created our points.”