As well as the Atascadero High boys basketball team played away from home for much of this season, the Greyhounds won’t be lacking in confidence when they take the floor at Ewing Gym the rest of the way.
Atascadero defeated visiting Paso Robles 73-56 on Friday night to remain undefeated in PAC 7 play.
The Greyhounds (18-3, 8-0) had earned five of their first seven league victories on the road.
“It was nice to get all those road games out of the way at the beginning and win,” Atascadero guard Hayden Mislavsky said. “And then now we’ve got them all at home. So we know if we beat them away, we can beat them here.”
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Ranked fifth in Division 4AA of the CIF-Southern Section, the Greyhounds know other teams will be gunning for them from here on out.
“It’s nice,” Mislavsky said of the unblemished league record, “but everyone’s going to keep battling and trying to beat us because we’re on top.”
The Bearcats, who effectively stuck with Atascadero in a 43-31 loss in their first encounter this year, started Friday’s game strong, leading 16-14 after the first quarter.
“They came out excited,” Mislavsky said. “We kind of started slow, but then after that, we figured out what we had to do, we kept moving and started scoring.”
After taking a 34-24 halftime lead, the Greyhounds led just 36-30 early in the third.
They then reeled off a 10-0 run to push the lead to 46-30 three-and-a-half minutes before the start of the fourth.
“They respond pretty well,” Atascadero coach Jerry Tamelier said. “They’re a smart group of players. I think they realize when there are certain areas they’ve got to step up in, and generally in the second half, they do.”
Atascadero sank eight 3-pointers, including four by Mislavsky, who finished with 17 points.
It was the second game in a row that the junior came up big from beyond the arc. He hit three bombs in a clutch 66-61 win at San Luis Obispo on Wednesday.
“He’s got a good rhythm, he’s getting enough room to get the shot off, and when he’s hitting those 3s, it’s going to open things up,” Tamelier said. “It really helps us in terms of keeping the floor spaced and sharing the ball and looking for each other. It gives us another asset.
“That just kind of makes this team a little bit more formidable because our 3s have not been our strong suit this year, for the most part.”
Point guard Troy Norris added another solid showing to his strong season, putting up a game-best 19 points.
As it has for much of this season, Paso Robles (8-13, 2-6) had balanced scoring throughout.
Center Richard Curl led the Bearcats with 16 points, many of which came on putbacks, and small forward Adam White had 12 points.
The Greyhounds came into Friday with a two-game lead over both Arroyo Grande and Righetti, each of whom were tied for second at 5-2.
“It’s a great team,” Tamelier said of his squad, “and they’re a lot of fun to be in the gym with. Their energy is good, and they’re a fun team to watch play.”
At this stage, though, he wasn’t even beginning to entertain talk of possibly going undefeated in the PAC 7.
“You can’t get complacent,” Tamelier said. “Everybody improves in late January and February, and the game’s faster and more physical.”