BERKELEY -- In the marquee game of Monday’s MLK Classic, two of the best West Coast prospects in the 2016 class – both of whom just happen to play in the Bay Area – squared off, face-to-face, and while California commit Oscar Frayer and his Hayward (Calif.) Moreau Catholic Mariners came out on top, 68-67, San Jose (Calif.) Archbishop Mitty forward Ben Kone had another strong night, going 11-of-16 from the field for 23 points, and pulling down a game-high 12 rebounds in 31 minutes.
In the final minutes, though, Moreau Catholic was able to close a five-point gap and take the lead, holding it during the last minute thanks to foul shots.
“Man, we didn’t really execute on defense. I’m going to take fault on that,” Kone said. “I got bumped in the leg earlier, and I just couldn’t come back from it. It felt like a bad knee-to-knee. I took a couple Advil and tried to play through it.”
Kone later found out that the injury was just a bruise, and intends to play through it, he told BT this week.
While Kone wasn’t as productive in the second half as he was the first – scoring just seven points – he did quite a bit of work on the defensive end against Frayer, a challenge he relished.
“It’s always good. It’s always a good competition,” said the 6-foot-9 Kone. “He’s probably, I think, one of the best wings on the West Coast, if not the best wing on the West Coast. He’s a guy I have great respect for. He came out shooting the ball great. Man-on-man, I wanted to see what he could do, and he hit three three’s coming out. That really set the tone for their team.”
The 6-foot-6 Frayer had a bit of a more difficult time guarding Kone, and didn’t do much one-on-one defending the big forward, but the match-up was very physical.
Monday was Frayer’s first time playing at what will eventually be his home gym, and the Bears are going hard after his Mitty counterpart, as well, with three Cal coaches in the stands watching the game, including head coach Cuonzo Martin. Oregon State’s Gregg Gottlieb -- a former Bears assistant – was in the stands, as well, and greeted Kone after the game.
“Oregon State is big. I’m saying ‘hi’ to him after. That’s really it. It’s been kind of dead for the most part,” Kone said. Dead, but for Cal.
“We talk a lot,” Kone said of the Bears. “We talk pretty much bi-weekly, just to check up, see how their team’s doing. They had a good start, a rough past month. They have a new coach, so that’s what’s going to happen in basketball. There are a lot of runs, a lot of ups and downs. I think they’re doing a great job for first-year coaches, to be honest with you. Just coming in, in the situation they were, with players, guys maybe they didn’t necessarily want on the team, they’re making the best of what they have. It’s a really great atmosphere, and a really great family environment they’re building here.”