Lonnie Watson didn’t have to do quite as much for the Paso Robles High boys basketball team on Monday evening, and that was OK for the Bearcats.
The 6-foot-3 guard entered the week leading the PAC 7 in scoring at 19.7 points per game, but only two teammates were averaging more than six.
Watson had 12 points Monday, but so, too, did teammates Cheyne Hayes, Brandon Todd and Adam White, as Paso Robles routed Templeton 53-26 in the opening round of the 45th annual Atascadero Christmas Classic in Ewing Gym.
“It takes pressure off me,” Watson said. “I don’t have to go out and score 20 a game.”
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Paso Robles (7-4) has won three in a row.
“Our team is starting to come together,” Watson said. “We’re more consistent now.”
The Bearcats added to a 16-4 first-quarter advantage for a 33-10 halftime lead.
“I thought we played very, very well, particularly defensively, in the first half,” Paso Robles coach Scott Larson said. “We were aggressive and we hustled.
“We’re trying to achieve a more balanced attack where people are getting each other open for shots, and we got that,” Larson added.
The largest lead was established at 28 points on a 10-foot jumper by Todd that pushed the gap to 40-12 with about three minutes remaining in the third quarter.
A 10-of-25 showing at the free-throw line by Paso Robles was offset by a similar 9-of-24 performance by the Eagles (3-6), who have now lost six of their past seven.
“In the second half, I wasn’t very pleased with the way we played,” Larson said. “I didn’t think we hustled as well, and certainly we didn’t execute on offense.”
Jordan Hattar had a game-best 14 points for Templeton, and Dakota Oropeza added five in defeat. It was Paso Robles’ second win this season over Templeton, following a 59-40 victory Dec. 5.
“We’ve improved a lot since the last time we played (Templeton),” Larson said. “We played much better defensively.
“We’ve got some work to do on the offensive end,” he added. “In a half-court sense, I think we can do a better job. A lot of (the 53 points) were transition points or off offensive rebounds.”
Paso Robles advanced to face league foe Pioneer Valley, which edged Lompoc 39-37, at 5:45 p.m. today. Templeton will meet Lompoc at 2:30 p.m.
Also at the Atascadero Christmas Classic:
Atascadero 67, Shafter 36
Eleven different Greyhounds scored in the blowout, led by junior guard Troy Norris’ game-high 20 points. Matt O’Connell added 10 points, Taylor Hendrickson eight and Sam McMillan six for Atascadero (8-3), which steadily added to a 21-8 first-quarter lead.
Cristian Barrios paced the Generals (3-7) with 12.
The Greyhounds will take on Montclair, which breezed by Santa Maria 67-39 in opening-day action, at 7:30 tonight. Pascual Valadez, a 6-6 center, entered the tournament leading the Cavaliers with 11.3 points, 10 rebounds and 2.8 blocks per game.
“We definitely had the advantage in a lot of the matchups (Monday),” Atascadero coach Jerry Tamelier said. “We’ll be challenged by Montclair.”