Arroyo Grande High’s boys basketball team executed well against the only undefeated team in the PAC 7 on Friday.
But their shots stopped falling just at the wrong time — in the final minutes of a see-saw game, and the Eagles (15-7, 4-4) fell 64-58 at home against Righetti (12-9, 8-0).
Arroyo Grande led by a point at the half, and the matchup between the league’s first- and fourth-place teams seemed primed to come down to the wire.
Matt Willkomm established his presence early, scoring nine in the first quarter and 14 in the opening half toward his game-high 21.
But the Warriors collapsed on Willkomm in the final minutes as he and several Eagles attempted 3-point shots that wouldn’t go down.
Arroyo Grande pulled within 59-56 in the final two minutes after Cobe Williams drew a foul on a 3-point attempt. He finished with 16 points.
But Warriors point guard Marcus McMorris countered with a tough fallaway jumper on the next possession to give his team a 61-56 lead.
Willkomm smartly drew a foul on a drive to the basket on McMorris and drained two free throws to make it 61-58.
Then the dagger came on an inbound play with 37 seconds left when Warriors’ 6-foot-6 sophomore forward Cameron Walker faked toward the inbound passer at midcourt and then used a backdoor cut to the hoop.
Walker caught the ball near the rim and threw down a two-handed slam dunk to put the game out of reach. The Eagles attempted three 3-pointers in the final stretch but couldn’t hit any to close the gap.
A tough matchup all night long, Walker, finished with 19 points and two dunks on the night.
Walker already has six scholarship offers from universities including Fresno State, Cal Poly, and San Diego State, according to Righetti coach Kevin Barbarick.
After the game, Willkomm said a few key turnovers set them back late in the fourth quarter, though the Eagles only had seven turnovers for the game.
“After a couple of turnovers, we had to play catch-up,” Willkomm said. “I felt like I played well, but I could have played better. They played a great game. Both teams played really hard.”
Despite the matchup problem created by Walker, 6-2 forward Brennan Rivera kept him from scoring for stretches of the game. Rivera, who had eight points, said his goal was to play keep-away.
“I didn’t want him to get the ball in his hands,” Rivera said. “I got two fouls in the first quarter, and after that I had to play less physical than I would have liked, but my goal was to stay as tight as possible.”
But after swarming defense in the third quarter that led to steals and turnovers for Arroyo Grande, it was McMorris who started to take over.
The 5-9, 145-pound left-handed point guard used some lightning-quick moves to get into the paint and get off mid-range jump shots and floaters. Thirteen of his 16 points came in the second half.
“Marcus played a fantastic game,” Barbarick said. “He led us down the stretch. He played a great fourth quarter.”
For the Eagles, Williams was a handful for Righetti, notching 16 points, four assists and three steals.
Along with Willkomm, Williams hit several key shots to keep the Eagles neck-and-neck with several lead swings in the game.
“Even though we didn’t end up with the win, our effort was incredible,” Arroyo Grande coach Ryan Glanville said. “I told the guys after the game, right now it’s about jockeying for position in the PAC 7.
“The top four teams go to playoffs. We’re playing well and just need to keep playing hard.”
Walker said he’s happy Righetti is undefeated in the league. The lanky forward displayed an inside and outside game by drilling a 3-pointer and mid-range shots in addition to driving layups. He said the Warriors will face a hungry Atascadero team Feb. 6, and the final stretch of the season won’t be easy.
“We play Atascadero at Atascadero and St. Joe’s will be hungry,” Walker said. “We want to win out, but it’s not going to be easy.”