Atascadero defends home floor
ATASCADERO — The Atascadero boys basketball team hosted Santa Maria on Tuesday night in Ewing Gymnasium and walked away with a 20-point victory, 71-51, over a short-handed Saints team. Santa Maria entered the game riding an eleven-game losing streak full of heartbreakers and single-possession losses to the top teams in the Ocean League. But without their tallest player, Rolando Pina, on Tuesday night, the Hounds feasted in the paint.
The Greyhounds entered the game ready to play their second game of a three-game homestand and fresh off a big win over Pioneer Valley on Friday, 56-41. Atascadero controlled the game from wire to wire and received contributions from up and down their roster as head coach Augie Johnston kept rotating bodies, seeing that the Saints had only eight players dressed for the game.
Atascadero’s defense was strong throughout the night and kept the Saints from getting many open looks from behind the three point line but even when they had them Santa Maria had trouble converting as it was just not their night shooting.
The Hounds started to pull away from the Saints in the second quarter when senior guard Zyon Richardson subbed in and immediately started making plays on both ends of the floor. Richardson first played for the Hounds this season on Dec. 20, 2019 when Atascadero played Bishop Diego and has slowly been earning more playing time as he picks up the playbook and jells with the rest of the team
“Everything has just been flying,” Richardson said after the game. “We came out and started league 1-1 and then we started losing a little bit but we feel in our last two or three games we have been playing our best basketball.”
The Hounds are currently 13-10 overall and 5-4 in the Ocean League following the win on Tuesday night.
Richardson checked into the game and immediately grabbed a rebound and started the break before dishing off a nice assist to a streak teammate in orange. A few possessions later, the senior showcased his sticky fingers and picked the pocket of the Saints ball handler and took it the other way for the uncontested layup.
Richardson led the team in scoring Tuesday night but was one of three Atascadero guards that cracked double figures on the evening. Richardson finished with 14 points, on an efficient 7-for-10 shooting, seven rebounds, one assist and five steals, returning all-league selection Mitchel Carpenter finished with 13 points, five rebounds and three assists and Ayden Bremmer added 10 points with three rebounds and three steals.
Even with the Hounds offense looking good, it was the rebounding difference that really put the game away late. Atascadero ended the evening with 18 offensive rebounds, four players grabbed three or more, which led to second chance points and kept Santa Maria from making a late run.
“I think that we are finally playing our best basketball,” Johnston said after the game. “I think at the beginning of the season we started off pretty strong and then we experienced a down period but I think we are back to playing our best ball.”
Friday night, Atascadero heads to Bakersfield-Highland looking to extend their winning streak to three before taking on the Morro Bay Pirates, who just lost their first league game of the season Tuesday night, in what will be the biggest game of the year so far. Next Friday Atascadero will host their final home game of the season (senior night) before heading on the road to face Nipomo for their final regular season game.