Among the many angles of the boys basketball season, Atascadero High is doing just fine without Troy Norris, one of the greatest players to ever come out of the San Luis Obispo County.
He left as the face of a Greyhounds program that went 25-4 and captured the PAC 7 championship with a 12-0 record.
This year’s Greyhounds are 6-3 despite one interesting fact: five of their top seven players are sophomores. Their roster lists only three seniors, one of them being Hayden Mislavsky, a floor leader alongside rising talents such as sophomores Connor Kim and Robert Berwick, who played on the varsity last season.
“I don’t think anybody expects us to do that in league (again),” Atascadero coach Jerry Tamelier said about a possible repeat of last season, “but we want to be in contention in league and be in the hunt for the playoffs. Just be a good, solid basketball team to play with and we’re making some real good strides.”
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The same could be said for many of the other teams in the county.
Mission Prep is gearing up for another exciting run as an independent team after advancing to the semifinals of last year’s CIF-Southern Section Division 5AA playoffs. The Royals, who are in the middle of hosting their annual Mission Prep Christmas Classic, will lean on forward Zach Allmon, a Cal Poly signee, and three other top returners — point guard Mike Cardwell and scorers Andy Rowley and Connor Woolpert.
“We do have a great player in Zach, who has committed to Cal Poly, but he’s not alone,” Mission Prep coach Terrance Harris said. “He doesn’t have to carry the load this year. We have several players who can perform well offensively and defensively. That’s what makes us competitive.”
The Royals opened the season with a 67-54 win over a talented Morro Bay team, which is coming off a turnaround year after having two straight losing seasons.
The Pirates have senior power forward Edward Griley, an all-county first-team member and the reigning Los Padres League MVP, as well as a collection of other scorers.
On Thursday night against Nipomo in the LPL opener, Morro Bay showcased its shooting range, as the Pirates knocked down 12 3-pointers with Marcus Zorovich, a senior guard, putting up a near triple-double with 12 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists.
Another LPL member looks to make a solid run. Nipomo was 15-12 last season and made the playoffs. Ryan McNeil, who’s headed to Long Beach State for baseball, is a player to watch. The 6-foot-3, 210-pound senior averaged 10.6 points last season.
And Templeton, which hasn’t had a winning season since 2005, will rely on young talent such as Andy Garrettson, a sophomore forward who averages about 13 points and six rebounds a game.
Also looking to be competitive in the PAC 7 with Atascadero is San Luis Obispo, which has scorers Matt Moore and Blake Shapazian. The Tigers will rely a lot on their 3-point shooting because they regularly face taller teams.
Paso Robles finished the PAC 7 3-9 last season. The Bearcats look to rebuild after graduating 12 seniors.
But like Tamelier said, despite his team’s strong start, “We have to keep getting better.”
His Greyhounds are ranked third in Division 3A in the Southern Section preseason polls, and San Luis Obispo is 15th. Mission Prep is the only other county team to be ranked, as the Royals are fifth in Division 5AA.