TEMPLETON — After losing to the rival Morro Bay Pirates on Friday night of last week the Templeton Eagles boys basketball team responded with a big bounce-back win, defeating Orcutt Academy by 34 points, 72-38.
With the victory, the Eagles are now 3-1 in the Ocean League and in a three-way tie for first place with Atascadero, who the boys beat, and Morro Bay. Templeton has one game remaining in the first half of Ocean League play and will begin their second trip through after playing Nipomo on Friday.
Templeton put on a show in front of their home crowd Tuesday night as they were firing on all cylinders on both offense and defense. The Eagles’ defense has continued to improve over the last two weeks and was stifling Tuesday as the boys scored more points in each of the four quarters than the Titans did in any one quarter. The most points Nipomo scored in any quarter was 15 and that is with the Eagles emptying their bench nearly the entire game and playing almost every player on the team the same amount of minutes.
“I feel like we are getting better and better defensively,” head basketball coach Andrew Cherry said Wednesday afternoon. “And we have to because we’re not the biggest team, in fact, we might be the smallest in the area overall in terms of our starting group. We aren’t the best shooters but we are good in a lot of places so we have to play our defense to make up for those things.”
While some teams anchor their defense with a big guy in the middle and funnel everyone toward him like Atascadero, the Eagles do it with fast hands, instincts and a little pressure. A pair of sophomores led the way Tuesday night with Nate Mututwa recording four steals followed by Xander Shaw who recorded three. As a team, Templeton stole the ball away from the Spartans 17 times.
Offensively all but one of the 11 players on the team scored while shooting 46 percent on the night. Senior shooting guard Aiden Alexander played his best night of the season so far leading the Eagles in points with extreme efficiency scoring 18 points while making 7-of-12 shots and going 4-for-8 from behind the three-point line. Senior forward John
While they shot the ball well from the perimeter it was Templeton’s ability to grab offensive rebounds that broke the will of Orcutt Academy early. The Eagles recorded 18 offensive rebounds according to Cherry, which is only two less than the number of defensive rebounds they grabbed.
The Eagles are now tied for first in the Ocean League with only six more games to go in the regular season. With one game to go until the halfway point in the league, Templeton sits in a great seat to control their own destiny. The only team the Eagles have lost to so far in the league is Morro Bay who they will get to play at home in the second half. If Templeton can beat the Pirates at home and take care of business in Atascadero on Jan. 25 and continue to beat the teams they already have, they should be league champions.
“I have been telling our boys all along that this league is competitive and it is really balanced so it is really feasible that an 8-2 or 7-3 record could win the league. So it’s how you bounce back from losses is what is going to determine the result of the league,” Cherry said. “It is all about maintaining focus and playing every game like it absolutely counts because I don’t believe by the end of the season that anyone is going to run away with it.”
Templeton will travel to Nipomo to take on the Titans Friday night at 6:45.