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Big man shows little mercy

02/27/2013, 10:57pm PST
By John Maffei

Mission Hills senior center scores 21, clogs middle on defense.

Mission Hills senior center Kameron Rooks (44), who will attend Cal, had 21 points, 12 rebounds and three blocked shots as the Grizzlies defeated Patrick Henry to advance to the Division I finals

— Much of what Patrick Henry does offensively is based on the team’s ability to crash the lane and get to the basket.

Wednesday night, in the San Diego Section Division I boys basketball semifinals, the Patriots found the lane clogged by Mission Hills 7-footer Kameron Rooks.

The Cal-bound senior scored 21 points, grabbed 12 rebounds and blocked three shots. He altered at least a dozen other shots as the Grizzlies built a big first-half lead and rolled to a 66-46 win.

The teams played in the fifth game of the season with Mission Hills winning 70-32.

The victory propels top-seeded Mission Hills (26-4) into Saturday’s 8:07 p.m. final against North County rival El Camino.

Henry’s season ends at 17-14.

“We missed a lot of shots, but their big guy had a lot to do with that,” said Henry coach Robert Fields. “He makes you change shots.

“And for us, he made us change our offense because we like to get to the basket. He really affected our ability to score.”

Mission Hills raced to a 26-13 lead at the end of the first quarter and stretched that to 42-22 at the half. Rooks scored nine of his points in the first quarter and eight in the third.

“Every game, my job is to step in the lane and take up space,” said Rooks, who will play in San Diego State’s Viejas Arena for the first time, on the court where his cousin JJ O’Brien stars for the Aztecs.

“Every game, it’s my job to change what the other team is trying to do inside.

“Teams lean on me, grab my arms, elbow me in the ribs. It’s like they think it’s unfair I’m 7 feet tall.”

Kibret Woldemichel swished three long 3-pointers in the first quarter and finished with 12 points for the Grizzlies.

Cody Hicks added 15 points and had a trio of 3-pointers, all in the second quarter when he scored 11 points.

“We wanted to come out and play well early,” said Mission Hills coach Curtis Hofmeister. “We wanted to get stops on defense and set the tone. Henry is a solid team, a team that likes to drive to the rim.

“The great thing is that we have a big guy in the middle, a guy who takes away a lot of what the other team wants to do. Kam alters or blocks a lot of shots. Then teams just stay away from him.”

Jacob Sherman paced Henry with 13 points while Derek Cordice added 11.

The Patriots were outrebounded 42-20.

“Mission Hills is a great team,” Fields said, “offensively and defensively.”

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