Hounds throw a block party


Beat Nipomo thanks to stellar defense in the final minutes

ATASCADERO — Senior center Cade VanAllen threw a block party in the final minutes of the Hounds’ boys basketball game against the Titans on Tuesday night and all of Atascadero was invited.

The 6-foot-7-inch big man did not administer any Mutombo finger waves over the final 3 minutes and 30 seconds of the game, but he very well could have as he registered four blocks, including the game-clincher with 11 seconds to go, in the final minutes and recorded Atascadero’s go-ahead basket on an alley-oop lay-up that head coach Augie Johnston drew up during a time out. It was a game that saw the Hounds go up big early and have to fight back late for the 48-46 victory elevating them to 3-1 in Ocean League and once again tied for first place.

It was a back-and-forth game that saw each team make large offensive runs followed by defensive adjustments.

“It was an interesting game because in the first quarter we played zone and we got up big actually,” Johnston said following the game. “Then it seemed like they figured out the zone and then they were scoring so we went man. It was kind of back and forth, I wasn’t too happy with it, but we still were able to get stops and get into some transition stuff and then in the second half we basically just played man the whole time and it looked good.”

The Hounds were up 10 points with around 6 minutes to go in the second when the Titans made their run. Nipomo closed the third quarter on a 15-5 run cutting the Hounds’ lead to three points, 39-36. Offense was hard to come by for both teams in the fourth quarter but the Hounds’ defense helping them get out in transition for easy scoring opportunities was the difference in the end.

Trailing 42-39, VanAllen ignited the team and the entire gym like lighter fluid on a campfire when he recorded his first block of the final frame that immediately led to an open three from the elbow in transition that Dylan Talley drained.

“We got the crowd into it with the clutch three that tied it up and I knew,” VanAllen said. “I just had a good feeling that we were going to come out with the W.”

This was probably the best game of the season for Talley who finished second in scoring with 17 points while shooting 50 percent from behind the arc, going 5-for-10. Talley and VanAllen were the only scoring threats for the Hounds on Tuesday night, accounting for 75 percent of the team’s points.

VanAllen recorded another block on the Titans next possession and momentum continued to turn. After the teams traded a few baskets the game was tied at 46 and VanAllen once again asserted himself. Johnston drew up a play out of a timeout and Atascadero executed it to perfection as it ended with VanAllen laying in the eventual game-winning basket via an alley-oop with :11 to go in the game.

Nipomo called a timeout and drew up a play, but somehow didn’t learn their lesson, and tried to tie the game up at the rim only to rejected once again like a millennial trying to get a loan from the bank.

“They started driving and running their offense and I knew that it was coming,” VanAllen said. “So I stepped up and helped out my teammates and got four straight to close out the game.”

It wasn’t the prettiest game, but it was good enough to get the win and thrust the Hounds back into a first-place tie in the Ocean League.

“Anytime you don’t play up to your full potential and win a game then you know that you’ve got a good team and good kids that know how to play the right way,” Johnston said. “And that is what happened in the end.”

Now at 3-1 in the league and 8-12 overall, Atascadero finds themselves in a three-way tie for first place with Templeton and Morro Bay. As all the coaches have proclaimed all year, the Ocean League is full of parody with each of the top three teams losing to each other.

“We still have a long way to go because every game counts,” Johnston affirmed. “And if you lose to one team that you are supposed to beat then it can basically ruin your season. We are happy with the position we are in but there is still a long way to go and we are just taking it game by game.”

Friday night the Hounds will travel to Santa Maria to finish the first half of league play and only have six games left to decide who is the champion.

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