Hounds comeback in 4th to win on senior night

Photos by Sharon West

Now waiting for playoff seeding

ATASCADERO — A 23-2 fourth quarter led the Hounds to a huge comeback win on senior night Tuesday as they beat Santa Maria, 56-44, to finish the regular season at 13-14 overall and 7-3 in the Ocean League.

The Greyhounds’ dreams of holding a piece of the inaugural Ocean League title were dashed on Friday night when they fell in Nipomo, 68-53, but their playoffs hopes and a proper send-off on senior night were still alive.

The Hounds are currently ranked No. 11 in Division 1 of the Central Section which is expected to take 16 teams to the playoffs, depending on how many teams submit their bid, making Tuesday night’s game crucial in potential seeding for the postseason.

For the first time this year, the student section at Atascadero was packed, lively and making an impact on the game. The contest was intense from the beginning and felt like a playoff atmosphere as intentional fouls, sideline warnings and disagreements with officials often indicate.

The Hounds and Saints went back and forth in the first half with the Saints taking a slim lead into halftime. The crowd began to grow a little restless in the second half as the Hounds’ Achilles heel of struggling in the second half seemed to rear its ugly head as Santa Maria’s lead climbed to nine by the end of the third quarter.

Then, as if the lights had been shut off in the gym, the Saints turned colder than a Chicago winter. With the Santa Maria struggling on offense, the Hounds began scratching and crawling their way back into the game.

“Guys were passing the ball inside or shooting a three and swishing it, our big man hit a three and we got stops and played fast,” AHS head basketball coach Augie Johnston said of the run. “With all those things considered we were able to make a run and against a team like that if you can get rebounds off those three-pointers then you can get outlets and get lay-ups but it is easier said than done.”

The tremendous run was ignited by sophomore Dylan Talley who opened the fourth quarter with a three-pointer from the corner, a block, and relentlessness on the offensive glass. Talley recorded three offensive rebounds in a row in the next possession before finally getting the bucket and the foul.

“We were down at the end of the third quarter so my mindset was that I’ve got to step up,” Talley said following the game. “You know, we’ve all got to step up, it’s the fourth quarter and this is a chance to get to CIF and if we don’t win this then we aren’t in. So I started that run and everyone started feeding off the energy.”

After Talley accounted for a six-point run all by himself, Cade VanAllen took over and closed the game out on his senior night. VanAllen converted two baskets in the low post and hit a straight-away three that sent the student section into a frenzy as Atascadero began running away with the game.

“We knew that we needed a big comeback in the fourth and we struggled in the second half all year so this is huge for us, a huge fourth quarter,” VanAllen said. “We started hitting shots, good kick outs to our guards and clutch three’s is ultimately what it came down to.”

The Saints’ only bucket of the fourth quarter came with 4:45 to go in the game and actually put Santa Maria up two points in the game but on the very next possession sophomore Mitchell Carpenter converted an and-1 that gave the Hounds a lead they would never relinquish.

“We always talk about how every possession is the game-winning possession,” Johnston said. “And they were able to lock in on that and they stepped up and made plays.”

The Hounds will now play the waiting game like rest of the teams going to the playoffs as they await to see where they will be seeded in the upcoming playoffs. The Hounds will more than likely be on the road for the duration of the playoffs and won't know who they play until Sunday.

Keep checking in with the Atascadero News & Paso Robles Press for playoff updates.  

Photos by Sharon West


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