On a night when they had to get a win against a tough opponent for a chance at the PAC 7 title, the Atascadero High boys basketball team came up big in front of a raucous home crowd.
The Greyhounds (15-8, 8-2) grabbed sole possession of second place with a 69-58 win over St. Joseph (17-7, 7-3), a team they lost to earlier this season.
Now, Atascadero gears up for the PAC 7 game of year – a home showdown against first place Righetti on Wednesday at 7 p.m.
The rivalry game Monday was fueled by back and forth taunting between energized Greyhound fans and several St. Joseph students in attendance.
Atascadero’s point guard Robbie Berwick had 21 points, six assists and six rebounds.
Shooting guard Jared Stuedemann scored 22 points, including six 3-pointers and added six rebounds.
Berwick started off shooting coldly, but came out on fire in the second half.
He buried one of the shots of the season — a deep, step-back 3-pointer at the buzzer at the end of the third quarter against tight defense to give his team a 56-41 lead.
Berwick had 17 of his 21 points in the second half and poured in 11 third-quarter points.
“I never lost confidence,” Berwick said. “I just needed to get my rhythm and then I started feeling really good. I thought that third quarter shot gave us a lot of momentum. We knew this was a big one and we came in with a lot of swag.”
Stuedemann caught fire in the first half, carrying his team with 17 points after the first two quarters, including five makes from behind the arc.
“We can’t say enough about my teammates and how well we played tonight,” Stuedemann said. “This means a lot to get this win. We’ve worked so hard as a team.”
Greyhounds coach Matt Knudson applauded his team’s defense as well as shooting.
Those Knights’ star Case Bruton had 22 points, only five came in the second half as the Greyhounds established a cushion.
And Atascadero contained 6-7 center Keith Datu well enough to keep him from dominating the paint.
Datu scored 18, including a spectacular dunk from a lob in the second half, but he was among only three St. Joseph players to score in the first half.
“Now we’re playing for a tie of the league championship,” said Knudson, a first year head coach. “This team has gotten better by the day this season.”