PASO ROBLES — For the first and only time this season, unless they meet in tournament play, the Atascadero Greyhounds and Paso Robles Bearcats boys basketball teams faced off Tuesday night in the Gil Asa Gymnasium.
The rivalry is a bit different this year because the Bearcats are currently in the Mountain League while the Hounds are in the Ocean League, but the passion and emotion were still on full display as the inside of the gym looked like a Chicago park in the fall just checkered with various shades of crimson and orange as the community showed up to support their alma maters. It was the Hounds that went home happy on this night as they won the nailbiter, 45-43.
It was a close game throughout, so close in fact that the game needed overtime to be decided. The largest lead for any team in the game was seven points, which the Bearcats held with just 4 minutes to go in the fourth quarter, while the Hounds’ largest lead was only five, which they held with just 6 seconds to go in the first quarter before Paso’s Cade Casida drained a corner three at the buzzer to end the quarter at 12-10 in favor of Atascadero.
The Greyhounds’ strategy was clear from the beginning, get the ball inside to their big man, the 6-foot-8-inch senior, Cade VanAllen. VanAllen was a nightmare inside for the Bearcats, posting a double-double with 18 points and 13 rebounds to go along with six blocks, one of which came at the final buzzer sending the game into overtime.
“It was for sure part of the game plan [getting the ball inside] because we knew that they were a little smaller,” VanAllen said following the game. “So we wanted to attack them inside and then they started doubling me in the second half so I got to dish it to some of our guards for some clutch three’s at the end.”
The Bearcats recaptured the lead with around 6 minutes to go in the second quarter and didn’t relinquish it until the first possession of overtime when Greyhounds sophomore Mitchell Carpenter hit one of his three huge three-point shots.
Paso Robles was in control for much of the second half but struggled mightily in the final quarter only scoring four total points.
“It was back and forth the whole game,” Atascadero head coach Augie Johnston said. “I think we did a really good job of recognizing what kind of defenses they were in and getting right into what we needed to get into. I think our guards were super disciplined and got the ball inside when we needed to and our big guy battled all night long.”
Carpenter led all scores in the game with 20 points and connected on 4-of-10 three-point shots, none bigger than the back-to-back three’s he hit in the final 2 minutes of the game to tie it at 36 apiece.
With just a minute remaining on the clock and the score knotted at 36, Paso Robles drew up a play out of a timeout to attempt to score the game-winning basket but instead were called for over and back and gave the ball back to the Hounds. Atascadero had their own chance to win it before overtime when senior Tristian Guillory went to the free throw line with under 30 seconds to go in the game but was unable to hit either of the free throws.
The Bearcats drew up one final play to try to win it in regulation but VanAllen sent the ball out of bounds for his sixth block of the night.
“He was coming down the lane and I didn’t want to foul him,” VanAllen said. “So I just sent it and swatted him and hyped my teammates up and said let's get this and finish it in overtime.”
VanAllen hit his only three-pointer of the game, on only his fourth attempt from behind the arc all season, in overtime pushing the Hounds’ total to 44 points and the eventual 45-43 victory.
“It felt really good to hit those threes and help our team get a win,” Carpenter said with a huge smile stretched across his face. “Every game we have improved and every practice we have improved and it is coming together very well. We will just keep working and it will keep getting better.”
Atascadero is now 2-4 on the season and will play in the St. Joseph High School basketball tournament this weekend. With the loss, the Bearcats fall to 3-3 on the year and will host Morro Bay next Thursday at the Gil Asa gymnasium.