High School Sports

Prep Boys Basketball: Atascadero still top dog

Atascadero High forward Robert Berwick looks to pass around Max Leage of San Luis Obispo during their PAC 7 game Wednesday at San Luis Obispo.
Atascadero High forward Robert Berwick looks to pass around Max Leage of San Luis Obispo during their PAC 7 game Wednesday at San Luis Obispo. jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

Whether in a blowout, a close game, or something in between, the Atascadero High boys basketball team just keeps winning.

That almost wasn’t the case Wednesday night, but the Greyhounds pulled out a 66-61 PAC 7 win at San Luis Obispo to stay undefeated in league play.

“We made the plays we had to in order to win,” Atascadero coach Jerry Tamelier said. “We’re kind of fortunate to get out of here with a win.”

Atascadero (17-3, 7-0), which came into the week ranked No. 5 in Division 4AA of the CIF-Southern Section, has now picked up all but two of its league victories away from home.

“We certainly want to keep it,” Tamelier said when asked if the unbeaten streak was a source of unwanted pressure to deal with every night, as other teams give the Greyhounds their best shots. “It’s a situation where we’re going to have to play well every night to maintain that.”

The Greyhounds’ starting small forward, freshman Robert Berwick, continued his strong play of late with a game-high 27 points.

Troy Norris had 13 points for the Greyhounds, and Hayden Mislavsky added 11.

Steve Sainsbury led the Tigers with 19 points. Matt Moore had 17, and Mike Hansen added 12 for San Luis Obispo (9-11, 3-4).

With just under four minutes remaining in the third quarter, it looked like the Greyhounds were poised to pull away, as Norris dished a whirling behind-the-head pass to the left corner, where Berwick drilled a 3-pointer for a 44-34 lead. Steadily, though, San Luis Obispo battled back with a 7-0 run, and headed into the fourth down 48-44.

The teams traded baskets early in the fourth, but then with about three minutes left in regulation, Mislavsky came up huge.

The junior shooting guard nailed a 3 to put Atascadero up 57-53, and after Moore answered with a bomb of his own to make it 58-56, Mislavsky buried another shot from beyond the arc to push the lead to 61-56 with two minutes to go.

“Someone had to step up, and those were the pivotal shots of the game,” Tamelier said.

San Luis Obispo is vying for its fifth straight postseason appearance.

“We just need to get over the hump where, in the fourth quarter, we take care of the ball a little better,” Tigers coach Jim Thompson said. “The effort has been there all year. We scrap, and we’ve played hard.”

The Tigers have relied on team speed and quickness this year, with no starter taller than 6-foot-3.

“We really thought that an up-tempo game was going to be the way we wanted to play, and we run the floor very well,” Thompson said. “That’s what we want to do — we want to get the ball and get out.”

Wednesday’s game was Atascadero’s first win at San Luis Obispo since the 2006-07 season.

A year ago, just when the Greyhounds really started to roll, they suffered a 50-46 setback at San Luis Obispo.

It was Atascadero’s only loss during a six-game span leading up to a divisional quarterfinals appearance in the playoffs.

“They always play us real tough down here,” Tamelier said. “They shot the ball really well, and they never went away. This team was a real challenge for us.”

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