Templeton boys league champions

First title since 2005

TEMPELTON —The celebration began when the clock hit triple zeros Tuesday night for the first time in 14 years as the Templeton Eagles boys basketball team claimed a share of the crown in the inaugural season of Ocean League after defeating Nipomo, 63-54.

The game wasn’t only important because the Eagles were in a race to first place, it was also senior night and the gym was packed. The five Templeton seniors Jordan Stowers, Aiden Alexander, Kirk Russell, Will Tedone and John Frangie were honored before the game in what they hope is not their last home game.

“It is pretty crazy,” Alexander said Wednesday morning. “That is a long time to go without a title and for it to be us to be the ones that were able to win is a crazy feeling.”

While the Templeton student section is always hyped, Tuesday night was different and the Eagles game reflected it. The seniors came out with flair dishing off no-look passes, hesis and backboard-shaking blocks as the crowd held up their individual cutouts of each of the senior's faces in approval.

“It was surreal. It was like, I don’t know,” Frangie said who got the start for the Eagles on Tuesday. “It was possibly our last home game and it all hit me that I needed to bring my all.”

The Eagles made a massive turn around this year with Tuesday’s night win bringing their record to 14-9 overall and 8-2 in league. Templeton combined to win only 13 total games over the past two seasons and haven’t claimed a league title since 2005, which uncoincidentally was the last time that head coach Andrew Cherry was coaching at Templeton.

“It was really weird because when we all started playing on varsity and stuff, like last year, we were sort of the bottom of the barrel,” Russell said. “It is kind of like a movie a little bit just coming around and winning league all of a sudden.”

Templeton defeated Nipomo, who had just knocked Atascadero out of a potential three-way tie atop the Ocean league on Friday night, 63-54, and have tied with Morro Bay for the title.

“Last year, I think it was kind of an every man for himself attitude,” Cherry said of the turnaround. “You know I think that is just how they played for a couple years and there wasn’t a whole lot of cohesion. They were all good friends and pleasant with each other but everyone was just trying to do their own thing and win things by themselves, again good kids but we pulled pretty hard to shift that and they bought in.”

Now the Eagles have a clear and defined motto and they stick to it.

“Know your role, do your job,” it is printed on their practice jerseys and together they play like it. It was never more obvious than in this last stretch of must-win games when the Eagles lost senior point guard and team leader Stowers to an ankle injury and didn’t miss a beat.

“I don’t think my role has even changed that much overall,” Stowers said. “I mean, besides the fact that I am not out there playing, I’m trying to be a leader and trying to encourage everyone. I want to be the same off the court as I am on the court. It is just a lot more difficult because I can’t go out there and make a difference but these guys carried through amazingly so it was the best I could have asked for.”

Stowers was in a walking boot on Tuesday but says he is getting close to coming back and adds there is a good chance he could be ready for the playoffs come next week.

Now as an Ocean League champion the Eagles must play the waiting game to see where they will be seeded in the playoffs. Templeton is currently ranked as the No. 12 team in Division 3 but are hoping to make a jump up into the top eight so that they would be able to host a playoff game next week.

“They’ll use that ranking [Maxpreps] but that isn’t the only thing that they will use,” Cherry pointed out. “They use a coaches poll that comes out and then they will take into consideration how you finished in league and I'm hoping that’s enough because that is purely numerical and algorithm-driven so we’re hoping we get pushed up to at least an eight or above and get at least one home game but we won’t know that for a while.”

The Eagles won’t know until Sunday if they will get to host or not, but the potential to host a playoff game for the first time in over a decade is exciting.

“Well, we have the best student section of any high school,” Tedone said. “I mean, it is awesome that they come and support us every single game we just have to pray to God that we get a home game for CIF so that we can get that same energy.”

Per CIF Central Section rules the higher seed in the playoff matchup always hosts the game meaning that it would be unlikely that Templeton would see more than one home game, but not impossible.

“It would mean a lot to me,” Frangie stated. “Templeton basketball hasn’t done anything like this in a long time and for me to be a part of this winning team and to host a home game [in the playoffs] would be a great honor and we will show them everything we got.”

Check back with the Atascadero News & Paso Robles Press over the weekend to see who the Eagles draw and where they will be playing. The games are expected to take place next Wednesday or Friday.


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