Templeton offense overpowers Atascadero down two starters

TEMPLETON — Templeton and Atascadero faced off for the second and final time this season on Tuesday night as the Greyhounds tried to avenge their home loss on Dec. 17 but could not generate enough offense to fly with the injured Eagles and fell 60-45. The Templeton team came out of the locker room for warmups all wearing “Braden Crew” T-shirts in support of Bearcat junior Braden Waterman who was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma on Jan. 3. Several of the players on the team played basketball with Waterman growing up and wanted to wear the shirts to support him.

It was the Eagles second straight game without returning second-team all-league selection junior Xander Shaw and third straight game without starter Nate Mututwa, both of whom have been out with injuries and could be out for the remainder of the season. But they still cruised to victory thanks to a huge second quarter both offensively and defensively. 

The Templeton Eagles warm-up wearing “Braden Crew” t-shirts before their game against the Greyhounds.

Templeton entered the game after dropping their last two games to Morro Bay and Pioneer Valley and was led through a strong group effort of two seniors: Evan Asplund (who led all scorers with 17 points), Mitchell Savory-Orton and junior Merek Hall.

The Greyhounds entered the game splitting their last four games with two league wins over Santa Maria and Orcutt Academy and a pair of losses to Morro Bay (who currently sits in first in league at 6-0) and Nipomo, who shares second in the Ocean with the Templeton Eagles at 5-2. Atascadero is currently in third place at 3-4 in league.

Since adding him late in the year, senior guard Zyon Richardson has helped inject the Hounds with some instant offense and showed his explosiveness time and time again on Tuesday night, getting to the rim with ease. 

The game started off close as both teams traded baskets in the early minutes trying to feel each other out. Even though the two teams have played each other once this season they both have different starting lineups and contributors this time around. 

Templeton junior Josh Kaiser takes Atascadero’s Drew Ardouin off the dribble.

Templeton jumped out to a 7-3 lead but the Hounds shot their way back into the game thanks to three-point shooting and nice ball movement. After one quarter, Templeton was up three points, 17-14.

The second quarter is where the game turned. Hall opened the quarter hitting back-to-back three-pointers and the Eagles tightened their defense like a vice. The Hounds didn’t get their first points in the second quarter until only two minutes remained. Atascadero head coach Augie Johnston turned to his bench and the senior Richardson who came in and scored Atascadero’s only four points in the second but by that time the Templeton lead had ballooned to 15.

 The Eagles went into halftime up 33-18 and never looked back. 

Templeton’s Mitchell Savory-Orton is defended by Atascadero’s Zyon Richardson.

“Our bench had to play big with some injuries to key players, and boy did they,” Templeton head coach Andrew Cherry said. “Before the game, we talked about opportunities and how they come sometimes when we don’t expect them. Also, how we have to face adversity in sports like we are with injuries right now. They rose to the challenge and I couldn’t be more proud.”

Friday night the Eagles will have a huge game in terms of Ocean League standings when they head to Nipomo to take on the Titans, with whom they are currently tied for second place. Friday’s game will kick off a three-game road trip for the Eagles with all three heading into Santa Barbara county.

The Greyhounds have two very winnable games sitting in front of them in Pioneer Valley and Santa Maria. Should the Hounds win both, they could find themselves in second place with a shot at the league championship if several things break their way. 

Getting through this together, Atascadero