By Jeremy Balan
Mission High School’s boys basketball team may not be able to put four quarters of solid basketball together yet, but on Friday against visiting Lincoln, one flawless quarter was all it needed.
After trailing 32-28 at the half, the Bears shot just over 68 percent from the floor and outscored Lincoln 24-8 in the third quarter of their 72-67 Academic Athletic Association win.
“It’s the best quarter we’ve played as a team,” said Mission junior point guard Antoine Porter. “We want to get going as fast as we can on teams, so we can just put them away early and so we don’t have to worry about it later in the game.”
Mission forward Gione Edwards scored 10 of his game-high 30 points in the third quarter on 4-of-5 shooting, as the Bears carried a 52-40 lead heading into the final.
After Lincoln’s zone frustrated the Bears (9-7, 2-0) throughout the first half, the senior knocked down two 3-pointers early in the quarter, which opened up driving opportunities. Edwards shot 9-of-13 from the floor in the game and 10-of-14 from the free-throw line.
“I just was playing hard for my team and I’ll continue to do that,” Edwards said. “I took them out of their element on defense, because I can shoot 3s, but they didn’t know, because I didn’t do that much last year.”
Lincoln (6-10, 1-1) made a fourth-quarter run on the strength of 16 made free throws and 5-of-5 shooting from the floor, but the Bears continued to score and Porter continuously broke the Lincoln press that was put on to get the Mustangs back into the game.
Porter had a 11 points, but had his biggest impact as that one-man press break in the fourth quarter. On one play midway through the fourth, Porter broke through a trap in the backcourt, sped past the time line, crossed over a Lincoln defender, then found senior forward Miles Prescott for an easy, fast-break layup.
“Antoine is a pretty special kid and he’s still a little too unselfish sometimes, but in that fourth quarter I told him if he can split the gap, split it, and if he can’t, get rid of it,” said Mission head coach Arnold Zelaya. “I guess he split it.”
Lincoln actually shot 60 percent from the floor in the game and got a team-high 22 points from senior guard Chris Young, but took 15 fewer shots than the Bears and struggled with turnovers throughout.
Young’s 3-pointer at the buzzer slimmed the Lincoln deficit to it’s lowest point in the fourth quarter.
“They made their adjustments in the third quarter and attacked our zone, but they rebounded a lot better than us against the zone and that’s what killed us,” said Lincoln head coach Matt Jackson. “We know they are a matchup problem and that’s why we went zone. We’re going to see them again and hopefully we see them two more times. Maybe we got the first loss out of our way early.”
Both teams are favorites to meet in the AAA championship game, but Zelaya tempered any excitement over the big early-season win.
“It’s week two. I’m not going to get too excited. I’m happy with the effort put out, but it’s week two,” Zelaya said. “The idea is to put in 32 minutes and if we do, I don’t think anyone can beat us, but I don’t think we’ve even put in 12 good minutes yet, to be honest.”
Gione Edwards – 30
Shaquille Fisher – 14
Antoine Poter – 11
Kevin Murray – 6
Laron Davis – 5
Chris Young – 22
Ares Brown – 17
Nick Young – 11
Remfel Ganal – 5
Mitchell Lee – 4