Righetti High’s length disrupted the Paso Robles High boys basketball team’s offense all four quarters Wednesday night in Paso Robles.
It was only a matter of time before the Warriors’ size took over on the offensive side, too.
Righetti’s Cameron Walker, a 6-foot-7 athletic wing, scored 18 points in the second half while the Bearcats mustered just 13 in the half to fall 54-34.
“We hung tough in that first half,” Paso Robles coach Matt Drake said. “But in the second half, you’ve got to put the ball in the hole and we didn’t do that.”
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Paso Robles trailed by just four at halftime, 25-21, but Walker and the Warriors (11-6, 4-2 PAC7) took advantage of several size mismatches to outscore the Bearcats (10-9, 2-4) by 16 in the second half.
“We weren’t communicating (in the second half),” senior Anthony Spencer said. “We weren’t playing as smart as we should.”
Walker, last year’s co-Player of the Year in the PAC 7, finished with a game-high 22 points on 10 field goals and a pair of foul shots.
“I think he got more assertive (in the second half) and started taking the ball to the basket more,” Drake said. “That’s a difficult assignment for anyone.
“Once he decided to go, we weren’t able to stay with him.”
Jaylon Davis scored a team-high 12 points, and Jason Germain added 10 points and seven rebounds for the Bearcats, who lost their fourth straight game.
“We need to improve on our execution,” Spencer said. “We need to work on it harder in practice.”
Righetti started four players 6-foot-4 or taller, helping deny Paso Robles inside looks and forcing the Bearcats to take longer jump shots.
“My guys play hard, but in this league, you’ve got to be able to shoot the basketball and we’re struggling right now to put the ball in the hole,” Drake said. “Thirty-four points; you can’t survive in this league.”
Foul shooting helped keep Paso Robles within striking distance in the first half, as the Bearcats connected on 8 of 12 free throws.
But they didn’t attempt a foul shot in the second half as the offense stalled and shots failed to fall.
“That’s kind of been the thing, where we like the shots we’re getting, but we’re just not making them,” Drake said.
After a bucket by Jon Katches pulled the Bearcats within five late in the third quarter, Walker scored the final four points of the frame, including a driving layup at the buzzer where he split two defenders at the top of the key and shielded another using his long wingspan.
“He’s obviously a great athlete,” Drake said. “Some of those I can’t fault my guys at all for.”
On the defensive end, Paso Robles switched between man-to-man and zone looks to try and keep the Warriors out of the lane.
But once Walker became more active – whether driving on his defender or catching the ball in the middle of the zone – Righetti was able to score consistently.
“We’re playing that game of … seeing who they had on the floor and seeing if we can play a zone to keep guys out,” Drake said. “We were just trying to play cat-and-mouse. It just didn’t get us as far as we’d have liked.”