Jerry Tamelier sat in a training room Tuesday night, looking back on one of the biggest wins in his 28 years as the coach of the Atascadero High boys basketball team.
“And then there were four,” he mused after reviewing statistics and talking to reporters. And for the first time since the 2002-03 season, the Greyhounds are one of them.
At 7:30 tonight at Concordia University in Irvine, fifth-seeded Atascadero (25-3) will take on top-seeded Orange Lutheran (24-6) in the semifinals of the CIF-Southern Section Division 4AA playoffs.
The Greyhounds are coming off of a 60-47 win over fourth-seeded St. John Bosco of Bellflower, which featured a nationally ranked point guard in Cezar Guerrero. Orange Lutheran, which is ranked No. 12 in the state by Cal-Hi Sports, eliminated Northview of Covina 78-57 in the quarterfinals.
“They’re a very good team,” Tamelier said Thursday. “They’re quick, they’re long and they’re pretty deep.”
The Lancers are led by junior shooting guard and Pac-10 recruit Gabe York, who’s averaging 18.8 points, and Northern Arizona-committed senior point guard James Douglas, who’s putting up 16.3 points per game.
“They really push the ball up hard and play good pressure defense,” Tamelier said. “We have to spread the floor and make sure we don’t stand still, and our passes have to be crisp.
“And defensively, we need to stay in front of them, pressure them and limit their opportunities,” he added. “Mistakes and lapses are the things that eliminate you in a game like this.”
As impressive of a challenge as Orange Lutheran poses, though, the Greyhounds — who’re riding a 15-game winning streak — won’t be lacking in confidence, Tamelier said.
Senior guard Troy Norris leads Atascadero with 17.4 points, 3.9 assists and 4.5 steals per game. Junior guard Hayden Mislavsky, who’s coming off a 17-point performance in the quarterfinals, and small forward Robert Berwick, the area’s most impressive freshman in years, are also versatile threats on the perimeter.
Additionally, power forward Weston Walker and 6-foot-7 center Sean Slavin, both seniors, are averaging a combined 19 points and 15.7 rebounds per game.
“I feel with this ball club, myself included, we’re not in awe of anybody (heading into a game),” Tamelier said. “I really think our confidence is up, I really think they believe in each other, and I expect a good game.”
Familiar foe for Mission Prep
Mission Prep will take on Flintridge Prep in the Southern Section Division 5AA semifinals at La Cañada High at 7 p.m.
It will be a rematch of a tournament game between the two from Dec. 30, which Flintridge Prep won 77-61, thanks largely to an 18-10 third-quarter run. Every other quarter was competitive.
“Both teams are very different teams than the ones that met in December,” Royals coach Terrance Harris said, “just looking at the minutes certain players on the roster played, let alone how people are playing now and how they’ve come together as a group.”
The top-seeded Rebels (21-6) feature 6-8, 260-pound center Kenyatta Smith. Smith, who has committed to Harvard, had 19 points, 21 rebounds and five blocks in the teams’ first encounter this year, approximate to his averages for the season. But Flintridge Prep is far from a one-man show, Harris stressed.
Three others — guards Kory Hamane and Robert Cartwright, as well as forward Jared Norsworthy — are all averaging between 12 and 13 points.
“They really are a good team,” Harris said. “They’re deserving of being the No. 1 seed.”
Fourth-seeded Mission Prep (18-10) has relied on balanced scoring this year, with guard Andy Rowley, forwards Connor Woolpert and Art Lane, and center Zach Allmon averaging between 9.6 and 12.3 points.
Allmon, a 6-6 post presence who grabs 10.2 rebounds per contest, briefly returned from a four-game absence due to a sprained ankle in the Royals’ 46-44 win over St. Monica in the quarterfinals. The extent of his availability tonight will be determined before the game, Harris said.
As for pulling out the close win earlier this week, “I really like the maturity of my team down the stretch,” Harris said. “That’s a game we would’ve lost a month-and-a-half ago. We had to learn how to finish down the stretch.”
On a side note, there is some history between these two programs. In 1989, the Royals defeated the Rebels 56-48 for the Division 1A title.