Two dramatic game-winners kicked off what is setting up to be two weeks of fast-paced boys basketball action in the PAC 8 as the regular season draws to a close.
Junior Caleb Whalen scored on a layup as time expired to give Arroyo Grande a 55-54 comeback win Monday against St. Joseph. The winning basket came on an assist from senior AJ Panetta, who grabbed an offensive rebound and made the pass while still sitting on the floor. Whalen finished the game with 14 points.
The win was the third in a row for Arroyo Grande (14-8, 7-3 PAC 8) after it beat Mission Prep and Righetti last week. The Eagles are now alone in second place in the PAC 8 with four games to go in the regular season. Arroyo Grande will play Paso Robles at home Wednesday, a team that has had its fair share of dramatic finishes lately.
Premium content for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
Paso Robles (6-11, 4-6 PAC 8) beat Pioneer Valley 57-56 in Santa Maria on Monday when senior Anthony Napoli hit a game-winning 3-pointer with less than 10 seconds to play. He finished the game with 12 points and two blocks while the Bearcats leading scorer all season, senior Sebastian Galsim, had 21 points.
Paso Robles almost beat SLO High on Friday, but lost by two points. With a 71-50 win over Righetti on Monday, SLO High (19-4, 8-1 PAC 8) remained in first place in league play and has a two-game lead over Arroyo Grande.
Templeton girls basketball streaking
The Templeton girls basketball team has won five in a row and is only one game behind first-place Cabrillo in the Los Padres League. During that stretch, Templeton (15-4, 9-1 Los Padres) has had wins over Lompoc (52-50) and Santa Ynez (49-44), two of the better teams in the league, led by seniors Julia Aurignac and Haley Hurdle.
Templeton hosts Santa Maria on Wednesday, but the biggest game of the season will come Feb. 8 when the Eagles have a rematch against Cabrillo, which held Templeton to a season-low 30 points in a win earlier this season.
SLO High’s Dolezal sets record
With his two-goal performance in a 3-1 win over Paso Robles on Friday, SLO High junior Branden Dolezal set a school record for most goals in a season with 19. He extended that record Monday, scoring two more in a 5-0 win over Righetti to give him 21 goals on the season. Dolezal has nine multi-goal games and six assists this season for SLO High, which is currently in second place in the PAC 8 behind Arroyo Grande with four games remaining in the regular season.
Arroyo Grande takes on Paso Robles on Wednesday and SLO High next Tuesday in a crucial stretch for the Eagles.
▪ The SLO High girls soccer team avenged its only loss of the season so far with an 8-0 win over Paso Robles on Friday. The Tigers, currently ranked No. 19 in the state, have won eight in a row and look to have the league title in hand with four games left on the schedule. SLO High junior and Cal Poly commit Olivia Ortiz, who had three assists against Paso Robles, has continued her dominating play during the streak. She has 19 goals and 11 assists in 16 games this season.
McKenna makes preseason All-America team
Cal Poly junior outfielder Alex McKenna was named to the 2018 College Baseball Preseason All-America Third Team by Baseball America on Monday.
The 6-foot-2, 200-pound center fielder from Canyon Country was a first-team All-Big West team selection after hitting .360 with 31 RBI and five home runs last season.
Cal Poly opens its season Feb. 16 against Gonzaga at the Surprise Tournament in Arizona.
Football field done, baseball still going
As massive renovations to the baseball team’s Baggett Stadium continue, such as a new backstop and bleachers, another major — now competed — project is set to be unveiled. Doeer Family Field, a new artificial turf practice field along Slack Street, formerly called the “I Field,” will officially open with a ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday.
Most of the money for the $4.8 million project came from Richard and Kathleen Doerr, but a total of 13 donors have contributed $2.1 million for the project, a joint venture between Associated Students, Inc., and Cal Poly Athletics.
“Doerr Family Field will have an immediate impact on the lives of our student-athletes,” said Mustang head football coach Tim Walsh in a media release. “Because of the field’s location, proximity to the locker room, training room and weight room, the lives of our student-athletes will be significantly improved. This may be the single most-impactful addition in our football history.”
Cal Poly Women’s Basketball
The Cal Poly women’s basketball team has won four of its last five games entering a two-game home stand this week against Hawai’i and UC Riverside on Thursday and Saturday, respectively.
Cal Poly (11-8, 5-2 Big West) is currently tied for second place in the conference with UC Irvine (13-8, 5-5 Big West), and both teams are two games behind UC Davis (17-3, 7-0 Big West). UC Riverside and Hawai’i both enter this week with losing records in conference play.
Both games will feature some of the top scorers in the conference. Cal Poly is led by senior Dynn Leaupepe, who is second in the Big West with a 19.6-points-per-game average. Leaupepe had 23 points and a career-high 13 rebounds in a 75-64 win over Long Beach State on Thursday night. Hawai’i’s Sarah Toeaina and UC Riverside’s Michelle Curry are tied for the fourth best scoring averages at 15.1 points per game.
Losing streak for men’s basketball
Cal Poly men’s basketball remains at the bottom of the Big West and is in the middle of a six-game losing streak. Cal Poly (6-15, 1-6 Big West) will try to end the skid and bounce back from a 24-point loss to UC Davis on Saturday when it hosts UC Riverside on Wednesday, a team that is 0-7 in conference play. That game will be followed by another home game against Hawai’i on Saturday.