The Atascadero High boys basketball team appeared well on its way to an easy CIF-Southern Section Division 3AA second-round playoff victory Friday night.
On the eve of an unofficial recruiting visit to Stanford, junior Robbie Berwick was in top form. Fellow Greyhounds guards Joe Johnson and Connor Kim were hot, too. And it looked like Atascadero would get another few days to rest Jared Stuedemann’s sprained ankle before a quarterfinal matchup with No. 1 Lawndale Leuzinger.
The No. 8 Greyhounds (19-8) ended up cruising to a 72-58 victory over ninth-seeded Riverside Arlington (17-10) at Ewing Gym, but not before having to deal with the Lions’ Joshua Godwin, who looked shameless shooting 3-pointers from extreme distance.
“We knew he could shoot it,” Atascadero coach Matt Knudson said. “He missed a couple early, but once he hit those two 26-footers, he got it going a little bit. We knew he was a shooter and we did a poor job getting to him.
“He was about six feet behind the line, and with some of those, he’s definitely shot them before.”
After Atascadero went on an 11-2 run to stake itself to a 21-13 lead in the second quarter, Godwin hit 3-pointers on four straight possessions to get Arlington back in the game.
As if he was playing H.O.R.S.E, the 5-foot-10 guard shot from all over the floor and seemed to back up further each time.
That was until the Greyhounds came out of their 1-2-2 zone to play a man-to-man defense, and the 6-4 Berwick began to pay special attention to Godwin.
“I was like, ‘I’m not letting this kid hit another 3,’ ” Berwick said. “Throughout the game, I knew if we shut him down, we can win the game.”
Godwin had two more 3s in the fourth quarter to finish with 18 points, and Lions forward Kenshael Arrington scored a team-high 19, but it wasn’t nearly enough to counter the balanced attack of the Greyhounds.
Berwick scored a game-high 26 points and dished out 10 assists, and three other Atascadero players also scored double figures.
Johnson had 13 points, including three 3-pointers, Kim had 12 points to go with 10 assists and Kevin Woodard had 12 points, tying Ryan O’Connell for the team high with seven rebounds.
After missing two weeks with an ankle injury of his own, Brady Youngquist returned for Atascadero and hit two 3-pointers.
When things were tight at the beginning of each half, Berwick took the initiative to score, and it created openings for others when the Arlington defense adjusted.
“I wanted to let the game come to me,” he said, “and I just decided I was going to take good shots. I saw the lane was open, so I just took the opportunity to drive right by the defender and get the layup.”
Berwick had five driving baskets in the first quarter, and to start the third, he immediately drained two 3-pointers, and helped the Greyhounds outscore the Lions 24-12 to turn the game back into a blowout.
“He can score,” Woodard said, “but he’s grown as a facilitator, too. He really has become an all-around player. He boards. He plays defense. He’s the real deal.”
The remaining starters made up for the loss of Stuedemann, who sprained his ankle in the Saturday practice leading up to Wednesday’s 75-49 first-round victory over Garden Grove Bolsa Grande.
It’s unclear whether Stuedemann will return for Tuesday’s quarterfinal game at Leuzinger.
Stuedemann being out “definitely hurts us, especially on defense,” Knudson said. “He is phenomenal on defense and rebounding, but we’ve been pretty deep all year.”