The Atascadero High boys basketball team just withstood a huge scoring performance from a guard to advance in the CIF-Southern Section Division 4AA playoffs.
The fifth-seeded Greyhounds (24-3) will likely have to do the same to move on from the quarterfinals at 7 tonight, when they’ll host fourth-seeded St. John Bosco of Bellflower (21-8) in Ewing Gym.
In Friday’s 66-56 win at Chaminade of West Hills, Eagles star point guard Jaron Martin erupted for 32 points, but the Greyhounds’ Sean Slavin and Weston Walker stifled 6-foot-11 center Gilles Dierickx in the post, and none of Martin’s teammates scored more than seven points.
“I just think we played a really smart game,” Atascadero coach Jerry Tamelier said. “We played as a team and we defended pretty well.”
On an even higher level than Martin, St. John Bosco’s point guard has been scoring at a prolific rate.Cezar Guerrero, a 6-foot, 165-pound senior, comes into tonight’s game averaging 27.9 points per game, and reportedly has offers from the likes of Kansas, Oklahoma and West Virginia.
“We’re going to have to be concerned about him,” Tamelier said.
It’s difficult to overstate Guerrero’s importance to his team. In the Braves’ 86-77 loss to Mater Dei of Santa Ana on Jan. 5, he poured in 46 points. When St. John Bosco played Mater Dei again, on Jan. 26, Guerrero sat out with a shoulder injury. Without him, the Braves lost 87-31.
In fact, Eric Sondheimer of the Los Angeles Times wrote Monday that “there’s no player in Southern California who means more to his team” than Guerrero does. He had 37 points in the Braves’ 69-60 win over Oak Park in the second round.
Tamelier said the Greyhounds won’t singularly structure their defense to overly focus on one player, though.“They’ve got other formidable players,” Tamelier said.
So do the Greyhounds. Troy Norris leads Atascadero with 17.2 points, 3.8 assists and 4.5 steals per game, while fellow guard Hayden Mislavsky and small forward Robert Berwick have both been consistent offensive threats around the perimeter, as well, complementing the interior presence of Slavin and Walker.
“They’ve had a great season,” Tamelier said. “I know they believe in themselves. We’ll be ready to play.“(St. John Bosco) is a great basketball team from a tough league,” Tamelier added. “It should be a good game.”
Royals thriving in Southern Section
Mission Prep (17-10) will also host a playoff game tonight, taking on St. Monica Catholic of Santa Monica (19-9) at Cowitz Court at 7 p.m. in a Division 5AA quarterfinal matchup.
The 12th-seeded Mariners are riding the emotional high of a 52-50 second-round win at St. Joseph, as Troy Whiteto sank a game-winning 3-pointer as time expired. Not coincidentally, Whiteto is St. Monica’s leading scorer, at 18.1 points per game.
“They’re probably going to be one of the more disciplined teams we’ll play this season,” Royals coach Terrance Harris said. “We’ve got to be patient both offensively and defensively and stay focused throughout the entire 32 minutes.”
Mission Prep, the division’s fourth seed, also played St. Joseph this year — a 73-61 win for the Knights — although the Royals were down just 51-49 after the third quarter.
“Sports is all about matchups and timing,” Harris said. “There are so many factors that go into certain games, you can’t assume that just because St. Joe played them close, that that means anything about our chances.”
Guard Andy Rowley (12.3 points and 3.8 assists per game) and forward Art Lane (11.4 points and 5.9 rebounds) have been consistent leaders for Mission Prep all season.
Zach Allmon, among the leading rebounders in the area with 10.2 per game, has missed the Royals’ past four games with an ankle sprain, and will be a game-day decision, Harris said.
This is the Royals’ first playoff run in the larger, more competitive Southern Section after transitioning from the Central Section this past offseason.
“They’re very much looking forward to playing this game,” Harris said. “They were definitely excited when they found out we had a home game and that they got to play in front of their friends and families. They know they have a tough task ahead of them, but they’re up for the challenge.”