For four months, Kyle Stewart sat on the sidelines.
The Mission Prep senior was coming off a junior season in which he led the Royals to a co-league title and was named Tribune County Basketball Player of the Year. Then he tore his meniscus.
As the weeks went by and his knee slowly healed, Stewart couldn’t work out and fell further out of basketball shape. When the season started, his game suffered.
But finally, two months into the season, Stewart is beginning to look like his old self again. The game he showed all last season was on full display Monday night against Atascadero (14-7 overall, 7-3 PAC 8), which came into the game trailing first-place Mission Prep (17-8, 9-1) by a game in the PAC 8 standings.
Stewart scored 13 points to help the Royals to a 76-57 win over the Greyhounds. The win moved Mission Prep to 9-1 in league play and maintained its one-game lead over St. Joseph.
“I kind of struggled a lot this year, just battling back from injuries, so it was good to get going,” Stewart said. “I feel pretty good. Obviously a little sore after I play, but I feel like I am getting my quickness and agility and jumping ability back.”
Even without Stewart at 100 percent, Mission Prep hasn’t struggled to find offense. The Royals are averaging just less than 72 points per game in league play. Against Atascadero on Monday, Mission Prep’s top scorer, Kyle Colvin, had 23 points, and Carter Gran chipped in 18.
Mission Prep was able to force turnovers against Atascadero and turn them into transition baskets. Atascadero junior Kyler Warren played well and finished with 18 points, but Marco Rojas (10 points) was the only other Greyhound to score in double figures. Elijah Cooks was held to just two points in three quarters of play after getting into early foul trouble.
In the early going, both teams struggled from the field, but it was Stewart’s two 3-point field goals in the first quarter that helped spark a run and gave Mission Prep a 34-25 halftime lead.
“I thought Stew played one of his better games for us,” Mission Prep head coach Terrence Harris said.
With Stewart coming off one of his best games, Mission Prep will look to keep it rolling in the final two weeks of the regular season when it hosts Righetti on Wednesday, the only team to beat the Royals in league play this season. Atascadero will look to get back on track against St. Joseph on the same night.
“It will be nice to hopefully make a run in CIF and hopefully close league out in first place,” Stewart said.
St. Joseph 76, Arroyo Grande 61
Gage Antonio had 18 points — all from 3-pointers — and Jacob Soriano had 15 points for Arroyo Grande. AJ Panetta recorded 11 points.
St. Joseph was led by Scott McBeth’s 29 points. Jojo Walker added 25 points for the Knights.
Pioneer Valley 61, Paso Robles 51
Gabe Linn had 19 points, 13 rebounds, six steals, four assists and two blocks in an all-around effort for the Bearcats. Cade Casida chipped in 13 points — including four three-pointers — and Austin Gutierez and Max Cabrera each had four points.
Paso Robles will play Arroyo Grande at home on Wednesday.
Righetti 62, San Luis Obispo 50
The Tigers fell to 3-7 in PAC 8 play (11-14 overall) and next play at Pioneer Valley on Wednesday.
Arroyo Grande 63, St. Joseph 44
Peyton Pelech had 18 points and Brynn Thoming had 16 points as the Eagles cruised to victory. Kinsey McBryde had nine points and Aleeza Bedania added seven points for second-place Arroyo Grande (15-6, 8-2 PAC 8), which next plays host to Paso Robles on Wednesday.
Paso Robles 46, Pioneer Valley 36
Kim Buchanan and Sydney Meneses had 14 points each and Bailey Lewis had 10 to lead Paso Robles. The Bearcats were 15 of 19 from the free throw line in the fourth quarter. The Bearcats (8-12, 4-6 PAC 8) play at Arroyo Grande on Wednesday.
Righetti 52, San Luis Obispo 47
The Tigers overcame a 13-point deficit midway through the third quarter to take a one-point lead in the fourth. The rally fell short as the first-place Warriors went on an 8-2 run to close out the game.
Lily Svetich had 10 points and Anika Meyer added nine for the Tigers (12-11, 5-5 PAC 8), who will host Pioneer Valley on Wednesday.
Mission Prep 58, Atascadero 46
Julia Carney had a game-high 20 points to lead the Royals to a win. Jennifer Laird added 17 points and Kyra Harris had a career-high eight assists.
Taylor Degnan scored 14 points to lead Atascadero and Aryana Gonzales added 12 points.
Mission Prep (8-13 overall, 6-4 PAC 8) will play first place Righetti on Wednesday, which Atascadero (4-14, 2-8) is at St. Joseph on the same night.
Paso Robles 3, Pioneer Valley 2
The Bearcats survived a late Panther push to hand Pioneer Valley only its second loss of the league season. Paso Robles (14-5-1, 7-3 PAC 8) took a 2-0 lead after a Jesus Mendoza goal — assisted by Ben Permenko — and a Panther own goal. Aidan Kerr tacked on an insurance goal in the second half.
Pioneer Valley (8-2) scored two late goals, but came up short.
Alex Aceves had 12 saves for the Bearcats, who will play again Tuesday instead of Friday due to possible rain later this week.
San Luis Obispo 4, Righetti 3
Freshman Moises Hernandez had two first-half goals and Cole Broome-Hanvey scored a penalty to give the Tigers a 3-0 lead at halftime. Righetti closed the gap with a penalty of its own before Noah Tomaszewski headed in another off a Tiger corner by Tristan Torres.
Righetti scored two late goals to make it close.
San Luis Obispo (14-3-1, 9-1 PAC 8) will play a must-win match against Pioneer Valley on Wednesday for a shot at the league title. The Panthers hold the tie-breaker over the Tigers after defeating them in their first meeting this season.
Atascadero 3, Mission Prep 0
Atascadero’s John Majors opened the scoring off an assist by Abraham Reyna. Colin Torres added another goal, which was assisted by Justin Buchanan and Reyna scored a goal of his own which Nicholas Rangel assisted on.
The Greyhounds (3-6-1 PAC 8) had 21 shots on goal.
Atascadero 2, Mission Prep 0
Marina Garcia and Casey Dempsey each had a goal for the Greyhounds. Atascadero will host Paso Robles on Tuesday instead of Friday due to possible rain later this week.
San Luis Obispo 4, Righetti 0
San Luis Obispo senior Grace Park scored twice in a win over Righetti. Olivia Ortiz added another goal and two assists. Isabelle Mendoza also scored for the first-place Tigers (17-0-1 overall, 10-0-0 PAC 8).
Paso Robles 3, Pioneer Valley 2
Giselle Zatarain scored the final two goals for Paso Robles in a win over Pioneer Valley.
Madison Mitchell opened the scoring for the Bearcats (12-6 overall, 5-5 PAC 8).
GIRLS WRESTLING Nipomo takes 2nd at Northern League finals
The Nipomo girl’s wrestling team took second at the Northern League Finals behind Pioneer Valley. Alexis Garcia at 235 pounds, Jacky Millan (170) and Abril Sanchez (106) each took first in their respective weight classes for the Titans.
Jordyn Cabales Rollins (101), Mackenzie Wisneski (111), Kayla Duran (126), Shelis Canton (137), Samantha Morin (150), Leecenia Mendez (160), Crystal Diaz (189) and Lyndsy Mendoza (235) each placed second for Nipomo. Bella Garcia (121) and Angelica Aguirre (121) were third in their respective divisions.
Nipomo will wrestle at the CIF Northern Regional meet at Pioneer Valley on Saturday.
GIRLS WATER POLO
Huntington Beach 7, Arroyo Grande 2 (Sunday)
The Eagles lost to Division 1 Huntington Beach at Dos Pueblos. Isabella Solis had two goals and Daniele Jenkins recorded nine saves. Hailey Henley also had four saves for Arroyo Grande (13-4), who will play host to Atascadero on Tuesday.