PROSPER – Two of the top boys basketball teams in District 9-6A took the court Tuesday with Prosper hosting Allen in a battle for first place.
Prosper had come in red-hot with losses to just Richardson and Lancaster up to that point, but you can now add the No. 7-ranked squad in the state to that short list after Allen posted a convincing 72-57 victory on the road.
“We wanted this game because we want to control our own destiny throughout the district process,” said Joe McCullough, Allen head coach. “This wasn’t a statement to anybody other than the guys in there, and we’re not trying to make a point to anybody outside of the locker room.”
The 15-point win pushes Allen to 20-4 overall on the season and 4-0 in district play, as junior guard Manny Obaseki and senior forwards Ian Motta and Bryce Kennedy all scored in double figures, with Kennedy leading the way with 18 points and nine rebounds.
The bulk of his damage came in the fourth with nine of his points, including four critical free throws following a technical foul on Prosper senior forward Mondo Battle and a huge 3-pointer late to push the advantage back to double-digits for good at 65-53.
Not only did Kennedy get the job done offensively and on the glass, the senior also had the grueling task of guarding Battle on the other end of the floor much of the night. Battle entered Tuesday’s contest as Prosper’s top scorer averaging just over 20 points per game but was held well below that mark with just 13 points in the loss thanks to the work done by the 6-foot-7 Kennedy.
“We challenged our guys tonight to take the challenge against a guy that plays at a really high level,” McCullough said. “I don’t know if we took him out of tonight’s game, but we really frustrated him. We had a lot of different guys guard him but, and Kennedy really took that challenge most of the night. He’s our best defender, maybe the best in the district, and it’s nice to have him to put him on a guy like that.”
Despite the lopsided defeat, Prosper came out firing all cylinders in the opening frame with four makes from beyond the arc. In fact, the early sharp-shooting from Prosper propelled them to a lead for nearly the entire quarter and held on at 19-17 heading into the second stanza.
Things tightened up quite a bit after Obaseki, a four-star recruit, nailed one from downtown to begin the second quarter to put Allen back in front at 20-19.
The two juggernauts slugged it out back and forth with two ties and three lead changes, as Prosper cooled off from the field and Allen settled down to control the pace of the game just before the half.
“Our woes on defense in the first quarter tonight were more due to the energy we were playing with,” McCullough said. “We were just really amped and we over-rotated and extended a little more on the ball than we wanted to.”
That momentum shifted into the second half, as five different Allen players aided in a 10-2 run to begin the third quarter to extend the lead to 40-28 and never looked back.
“I’m really proud of them because it was really tight at halftime, and we talked about digging in at the defensive end,” McCullough said. “To be able to hold them to just 57 points is huge and something we work on. I told them before the game that this game will be won in the areas that aren’t pretty in rebounding, taking charges and getting loose balls.”
Allen returns home Friday when it takes on Plano West, while Prosper hits the road to face Plano Senior in an attempt to get back into the win column.