Atascadero boys basketball team turns in masterpiece against Righetti

The game between last season’s PAC 7 co-champs is never close after the first quarter; Berwick scores a game-high 19

ajankowski@thetribunenews.comJanuary 23, 2014 

Atascadero High’s Joe Johnson drives to the hoop for a layup during Wednesday’s game, but it was his defense on Righetti’s Cam Walker that made the biggest difference in the Greyhounds’ 86-47 PAC 7 victory.

DAVID MIDDLECAMP — dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com Buy Photo

When the Atascadero High boys basketball team hosted Righetti last year, the Greyhounds needed a last-second 3-pointer from Robbie Berwick to win by three and force a tie with the Warriors atop the final league standings.

This year’s game was not nearly as tight.

The PAC 7 race does not look any closer, either.

Six different players hit 3-pointers, and Atascadero scored at least 22 points in three of the four quarters to demolish the visiting Warriors, 86-47, Wednesday night at Ewing Gym.

“I thought this game was going to be a good rematch of last year’s game,” Berwick said. “We really took it them.”

Righetti was held to just 12 field goals, including none in the second quarter as the Greyhounds used stifling defense and relentless offense to turn a 15-12 first-quarter lead into a matchup of reserves by the fourth.

“We started moving the ball well from the get-go, but it was really our defense that accelerated us to that next level,” senior Joe Johnson said. “The offense comes from the defensive end.”

Atascadero (15-2, 5-0 PAC 7) has won nine straight, including all five league games by double digits. Heading into Wednesday, the Greyhounds were outscoring opponents by 24 points in PAC 7 contests.

That figure jumped to 27 — 78.2 to 51.2 — following a 39-point victory against a team many thought could be Atascadero’s greatest opposition in the league.

That includes players in orange and white.

“I was surprised by winning by 40,” Berwick said. “I thought maybe 20 or 19, but 40 points is a really good win for us against Righetti because I think they are a good team.”

Berwick finished with a game-high 19 points despite sitting most of the second half — and all of the fourth — with his team well in the lead.

Cam Walker, Righetti’s 6-foot-7 star who shared PAC 7 Player of the Year honors with Berwick last year, was held to a quiet 11-point performance due in large part to the defensive pressure applied by Johnson.

“Joe Johnson is an animal,” said senior center Kevin Woodard, who hauled in a game-high eight rebounds. “I’ve never met anyone who works harder than that kid.”

Johnson is listed at nine inches shorter than Walker, but made up for the size differential by always staying between the basket and Righetti’s top scoring threat.

“I’m always used to being the smallest guy on the court,” Johnson said. “I thought I played pretty well on him, but it was a team effort.”

Connor Kim scored 16, as did fellow senior Cameren Fetzer, and Jared Stuedemann scored 12 to round out the Greyhounds in double figures. In all, 11 different players scored for the team that is now fighting complacency more than anything as the league schedule nears the midway point.

“We just try to keep moving forward and keep getting better,” said Johnson, whose team’s last loss came on Dec. 20 against Colorado’s Grandview. “We’re trying to peak around the last few games of the season heading into CIF.”

Atascadero led 59-34 heading into the fourth, when both teams pulled their starters.

Eager to join in the action, the Greyhound backups came out gunning and kept the highlights rolling.

Leading the way was Fetzer, who nailed three straight 3s before a pull-up heat check from way downtown rimmed out. Grant Woodard and Thomas Carpenter also hit triples as Atascadero outscored Righetti (8-6, 2-2) 27-13 in the final frame.

“Oh man, that was so much fun to watch,” said Berwick with a laugh before adding, “We’re just rolling right now.”

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