Tuesday night’s game at Mission was more of a coronation than a competition.
The host Bears were up to their usual business, blitzing Burton en route to a 100-56 win. Mission (27-1, 14-0 AAA) celebrated its five seniors, including two-sport star Niamey Harris, as the Bears clinched a third consecutive league title. But as the saying goes, it won’t mean a thing without the ring.
Fortunately for Mission, that is well within reach for a team that’s won two consecutive San Francisco Section championships and four of the past five. In fact, it would be a shock if the Bears don’t win a third straight. With the exception of wins over Lowell by 10 and 13 points, none of the Bears’ league games were decided by less than 25.
Head coach Arnold Zelaya has his sights set on another city title, as well as something bigger.
“Two years ago, we won a couple games in the state tournament, and last year we felt we sold ourselves a little short,” the ninth-year head coach said. “We knew an undefeated league season was within reach, but it wasn’t our main goal.”
Though Mission had more talented teams, this year’s group may have the best shot of making a run for a state title.
“We’re more disciplined on defense,” said Zelaya. Mission has played its share of games against the quality of competition that the state tournament will feature, including marquee wins over Logan and Menlo-Atherton.
Mission led just 15-13 midway through the first quarter but seized control from there. The Bears led by as much as 30 in the second quarter and could have won by more than the 44-point margin if not for the running clock, which started when the lead reached 40.
The Bears controlled every inch of the floor in their matchbox-sized gym on Tuesday, forcing 25 turnovers on a whopping 23 steals. Jamion Wright and Tyrese Johnson tied for the team lead with five steals apiece and each scored nine points. Harris and Robert Lee tied for the team lead with 17 points. U’jah Pratt added 16.
Ceasar Navas (9-19, 6-8) led Burton with 13 points while Demetrius Edwards-Smith finished with 10 points and nine rebounds.