Against a deadly 3-point shooting team like San Luis Obispo High, the Arroyo Grande boys basketball team didn’t mind that the Tigers were letting the shots go from deep.
As long as they were Jimmer Fredette-type attempts.
All game long, the Tigers were either taking a few steps behind the 3-point line before shooting or taking shots soon after crossing midcourt.
“That’s the type of shots we want to give up if we were going to give up a shot — three feet behind the line,” said power forward Brent VanderVeen, who led a balanced Arroyo Grande attack with 18 points and 15 rebounds in the Eagles’ 57-42 road win Friday for their ninth straight PAC 7 win and a league-best 9-1 record.
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Arroyo Grande teammates and guards Matt Willkomm added 17 points and four assists, and Gunnar Gomez nailed three 3-pointers for 13 points with six assists.
“We had to pressure out on them, get our hands up and not let them get any open looks,” added VanderVeen, whose highlights this week include signing to play football with Oregon State on Wednesday and contributing 27 points in a 57-50 win over Atascadero later that day.
When facing San Luis Obispo, there’s always a fear that the Tigers (11-11, 4-5 PAC 7) could get really hot from the 3-point line. That was the case in the first Arroyo Grande-San Luis Obispo meeting Jan. 11, when the Eagles gave up nine 3s before escaping with a 75-72 win.
This time, the Tigers finished with just six 3s — a low number for a team that regularly finishes in double digits or near that mark — with three of them coming in the second half, when Arroyo Grande was up by as many as 20 points.
Matt Moore led San Luis Obispo with 15 points, with the team’s second-leading scorer, David Thoresen, finishing with seven.
“That’s the scary thing when you’re playing San Luis Obispo,” Arroyo Grande coach Ryan Glanville said. “They shoot a lot of 3s, and they shoot it well. You get out as far as you can and get a hand up and hope they don’t go in. All you can do is be in position and test shots. Tonight they didn’t get into their streaks that they’re well known for. We’ll take that.”
The Eagles (16-8 overall) expanded their 32-22 halftime lead to 43-25 after opening the second half with an 11-3 run. They had their biggest advantage, 52-32, at the 5:17 mark in the fourth quarter.
It was a back-and-forth battle in the first quarter with five lead changes. But the Eagles took the lead for good in that period, thanks to a pair of free throws and a jumper from Willkomm.
From there, it was all Eagles, who have fully recovered from their 25-point loss to Righetti in the Jan. 4 league opener.
“That first (league) game was an eye-opener, like, ‘Whoa, we have to work together, we have to work hard, we gotta practice hard,’ ” Willkomm said. “I just think that we’re a better team now. We work together and we trust each other as teammates.”