As a point guard, Michael Escobedo naturally knows his role is to find the best possible shot for his offense. Lately, though, that often hasn’t meant giving the ball up to someone else.
The 6-foot, 185-pound senior entered his Arroyo Grande High boys basketball team’s game against Paso Robles on Monday night with a handful of games in which he already lit up the scoreboard himself. He added to that list in James Gym, sinking five 3-pointers en route to a game-high 26 points in a 58-49 win over the Bearcats in each team’s PAC 7 league opener.
“Being a point guard, you just look for your teammates and try to open up holes,” Escobedo said. “And when you’re open, you’ve got to knock down the shot. I just try to let the game come to me.”
Escobedo did his damage on a variety of spin moves, pull-ups, crossovers and kickouts.
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“He hit some big shots early in the game and hit some in the second half that were pretty big, too,” Arroyo Grande coach Ryan Glanville said.
It came on the heels of similar performances, such as his 29-point showing built on six 3s in a Dec. 11 loss to Edison of Fresno, and a 32-point outing thanks to seven long bombs in a win over Terra Linda last week.
Paso Robles led 13-12 after the first quarter Monday despite a 10-point first by Escobedo, last year’s PAC 7 Defensive Player of the Year.
“We had a lot of things go right,” Paso Robles coach Scott Larson said. “We played hard, and we attacked their pressure and their zone well. We played hard on defense. Their 3-point shooters hurt us, and a lot of times in transition-type situations where we didn’t get out on them quickly enough.”
Arroyo Grande (12-3) led 27-22 at halftime, but with just under five minutes remaining in the third, Paso Robles’ Lonnie Watson found Cheyne Hayes underneath the basket to cut the gap to 30-29.
Escobedo, though, promptly drilled a 3-pointer, triggering what became a 22-7 run. Matt McAustin nailed a pair of 3s with about four-and-a-half minutes left to give the Eagles their biggest advantage of the game, at 52-36. While Arroyo Grande surged ahead, Paso Robles (8-6) couldn’t keep up due to costly turnovers.
“No question, our turnovers hurt us,” Larson said. “Our point guards have to do a better job of handling the ball and controlling what the ball does. And we missed shots. We had some good looks but we just missed.”
McAustin finished with 10 points, with Derick Beasley adding eight in the win. Hayes led Paso Robles with 17, while Watson chipped in 15 and Brandon Todd 10.
The Eagles were just 12 of 23 at the free-throw line.
“I didn’t like a whole lot of what we did tonight,” Glanville said. “I thought we were really sloppy and didn’t take care of the ball or make good decisions. There was too much dribbling and not enough passing. It was a pretty ugly way for us to start league.”
Arroyo Grande, which is looking to build upon its CIF-Southern Section Division III-AA semifinals appearance from a year ago, will visit Atascadero at 7:30 Wednesday night.
“We were kind of lackadaisical,” Escobedo said of the Eagles’ intermittent struggles Monday. “We need to come out stronger for Atascadero.”
Paso Robles, meanwhile, will look to bounce back at Righetti, also at 7:30 Wednesday night.
“I was very pleased with our effort,” Larson said. “It’s a step in the right direction for us.”