Eagles fly to victory

Photos by Matt McFarland & Connor Allen

Control Hounds from opening tip

TEMPLETON — Tuesday night saw the first meaningful game between the Atascadero Greyhounds and Templeton Eagles boys basketball teams and the team in green left no doubt in their home gym.

The Eagles defeated the Hounds 55-37 and were in charge of the game from the beginning leading Atascadero 14-7 after the first quarter and up 27-15 at the half. The Eagles’ strategy was clear, do not let Cade VanAllen beat you, and they didn’t. Senior center-forward Kirk Russell, who is listed at 6-feet tall, was tasked with keeping VanAllen, listed at 6-foot-7, under 20 points and played a fantastic defensive game never letting Atascadero get into their rhythm.

“Big, big defense by Kirk Russell, a great defender, was playing their big guy excellently and we were making shots,” said senior guard Jordan Stowers. “And sometimes that is what carries you through and we kept making those shots the rest of the game which is great.”

Atascadero head coach Augie Johnston also noted the Eagles’ defense after the game saying, “We struggled to get into our stuff tonight I think they did a good job of playing deny defense and took us out of what we wanted to do. Normally we are able to get inside and make plays but tonight that isn’t what we were able to do so that hurt us.”

Stowers finished the game as the Eagles’ leading scorer and was one rebound away from joining the 4-by-5 club with 15 points, five assists, four rebounds and six steals followed by sophomore guard Merek Hall who finished with 13 points and three rebounds. Russell added seven points, three rebounds and three assists.

“You know we just sort of recommitted ourselves a couple weeks ago to just playing better defense,” Templeton head coach Andrew Cherry said. “We have been kind of up and down this season, we have played some good games and some games where we have lost close ones, so we recommitted to playing tough defense and they did it, two games in a row now.”

While Russell was making life difficult in the paint, Stowers began wreaking havoc on the perimeter picking pockets. Stowers finished the game with six steals which was also key in building their lead as the Eagles finished with 21 points off of the Hounds’ 26 turnovers while Atascadero was only able to score six points off of Templeton’s 15.

With the Eagles taking away the Hounds’ inside game it was up to the perimeter players to hit outside shots to open up the spacing of the court but Atascadero couldn’t get anything to fall, shooting just 2-for-13 (15 percent) from behind the arc and also only made one of their six free throw attempts.

The celebration rose to a crescendo in the fourth quarter when sophomore wing Xander Shaw rose up for the Eagles first dunk of the game. The 6-foot-2 lefty sliced through the lane and punched it down and Templeton pushed the lead to 20 points just a few moments later.

VanAllen finished the game with 17 points and six rebounds and was the only player in orange to crack double figures in the game.

As the Eagles were beating the Hounds, Morro Bay defeated the Nipomo Titans, leaving Templeton atop the Ocean League as the only undefeated team in league with eight games to go.

Templeton played a tough preseason schedule this year and it is paying off in league play.

“We played a tough preseason schedule, I was OK with that,” Cherry said. “I think you always want to do a little better but we were trying to prepare ourselves for league and so far through two games I think we have done that, but this league is tough. There is not going to be an easy night in this league we are all pretty evenly matched and so to me all it does on my side is just to tell our players that we still have to respect these guys because we are going to play them again and they are going to come back at us harder.’

Templeton will play back-to-back rivalry games this week as they take on the Pirates in Morro Bay on Friday night.

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Photos by Matt McFarland & Connor Allen


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