The San Luis Obispo High boys basketball team got its third win of the season Friday night with a 66-61 win over North (Bakersfield) at the Harding Invitational Tournament at Morro Bay, but it wasn’t as easy as it should have been.
San Luis Obispo’s Seth Moore scored 5 of his 13 points on back-to-back possessions in the fourth quarter, including a 3-pointer that put the Tigers up 49-40 with under six minutes to play. The Tigers got up as much as 12 with two minutes to go, but North inched its way back into the game, led by Shannon Wafer’s 17 second-half points, and the Tigers found themselves up just three with 35 seconds left.
After North scored on a fast break to cut the lead to three, the Tigers were able to beat North’s trap when San Luis Obispo sophomore Nate Higgins was sent to the floor by a hard foul to the face. Higgins was having trouble with his vision, so coach Jeff Brandow called on sophomore Mac McConnell to take Higgins’ place at the free-throw line with 31 seconds left. Still cold, the 5-foot-11 guard calmly stepped to the line and hit both ends of a 1-and-1, his only two points of the night, to put the Tigers up five and put the game out of reach.
“That kid is a sophomore and he’s got ice water in his veins,” Brandow said. “He didn’t have a sweat or anything. Those were two big shots by him.”
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Senior forward Alex Chai scored six of his team-leading 14 points in the third quarter, and Higgins finished with 11.
“I thought offensively we were pretty good,” Brandow said. “We didn’t turn it over, and scoring 66 points in your fourth game of the year is good.”
“Defensively, I don’t think we played as hard as we can or as hard as we need to. It almost cost us the game, really.”
Brandow said Thursday’s win over Carlsbad, where the Tigers held the Lancers to 15 points in the first half, is what it will take to be successful in the competitive PAC 8 moving forward. North scored 15 in the first quarter Friday.
“What I just told the team is that was an ugly game, but we won. We need to get better, but it’s better to win ugly than to lose ugly,” Brandow said.
The Tigers continue play in the Harding Invitational Tournament on Saturday with two games — at 10 a.m. against El Capitan, who defeated Morro Bay 62-39 on Friday, and at 4 p.m. against Bakersfield Christian.
Atascadero 59, Garces 36
Atascadero beat Garces at the Harding Invitational Tournament.
Marco Rojas had 18 points and Trevor Howell added 13 more for the Greyhounds (2-0).
Elijah Cooks and Will Scott each had 10 points for Atascadero, which jumped out to a 30-12 lead at the half.
The Greyhounds had 12 assists on 19 baskets.
Atascadero will play two games on Saturday — 11:30 a.m. against Shandon and at 5 p.m. against Carlsbad.
Central 68, Arroyo Grande 48
Arroyo Grande’s Gage Antonio had a team-high 12 points in a loss at the Harding Invitational Tournament.
Bradley Mickey registered 10 points. Patrick Angle added seven for the Eagles.
Tribune staff contributed to this report.