Matthew Blaney played a key role on Mission Prep’s PAC 8-winning team last season. He averaged 14 points per game and was named second-team all league by the coaches as a junior.
But on Friday night against Atascadero, sophomore Kyle Colvin started in his place.
“At first I was confused,” Blaney said of learning he wouldn’t be a starter a few games back. “Then me and T (Mission Prep coach Terrence Harris) had a talk and I realized that our goal is to win a CIF Championship, and if that is what I have to do to help my team, then I’m going to come off the bench.”
When he was finally inserted into the game on Friday, he sparked a Mission Prep comeback and led the Roylas to a 56-50 win over the Greyhounds. Blaney finished with a game-high 18 points that included four 3-pointers and a pair of three-point plays.
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“He was the energy and the spark that we have been expecting him to be,” Harris said. “Matthew Blaney played an outstanding game and he was every bit the man we know he can be.”
Playing at home, Atascadero were the ones feeding off the energy of a packed gym. Gabe Perry got easy looks at the rim for Atascadero and scored nine points in the first quarter. As the Greyhounds jumped out to a 20-10 lead, Harris ripped into his team during a time out.
“We weren’t getting back on defense, and we were giving them run outs and easy buckets and you can’t win like that,” Harris said, distilling his fiery message in the huddle. “I told them, quite frankly, if you want to win then you will get back on defense. They responded.”
The Royals went on a 21-9 run and took a 31-29 halftime lead after a Blaney 3-pointer.
“In the second quarter, I had a couple takes and I decided to let them fly and they were going my way tonight,” Blaney said.
“Blaney just shot really well,” Atascadero coach Fred Price said. “He hit some big shots for them. But it was just a really good high school game.”
Mission Prep’s Kyle Stewart picked up the slack when Blaney started to cool down, and scored seven points in the third quarter. Stewart, who also guarded Atascadero’s versatile forward Elijah Cooks most of the night, finished the game with 15 points. The defense and shooting of Mission Prep was enough to overcome a 7-13 night at the free throw line.
Perry was Atascadero’s leading scorer with 18 points and six rebounds. Cooks added 11 points and nine boards.
“I’m proud of my kids,” Price said of his now 8-5 Atascadero team. “If we hit a couple shots, it’s us on top, but if we play that hard and hit a few more shots we are going to win some games. It was definitely a step forward.”
Atascadero hosts Paso Robles on Monday. That same day, Mission Prep (7-7, 2-0 PAC 8) goes on the road to take on Arroyo Grande. Fans find out then if Blaney stays on the bench.
Arroyo Grande 58, San Luis Obispo 55
Patrick Angle scored 23 points — nine in the fourth quarter — to lead Arroyo Grande over the Tigers.
AJ Panetta scored eight of his 12 points in the fourth quarter, and Will Silmon had nine for the Eagles.
Seth Moore had 18 points, and Nick Attala and Alex Chai each added 11 points for San Luis Obispo.
St. Joseph 77, Paso Robles 38
Sebastian Galsim had a team-high 13 points in the loss for the Bearcats (4-9, 0-2 PAC 8).
Coast Union 52, Valley Christian 36
The Broncos remained undefeated in Coast Valley League play at 3-0.
Sam McKinnon scored 23 points, and Jez Lawson had 17 for the Broncos. Auggie Johnson chipped in with 10 points.