Templeton hangs with undefeated Morro Bay down 3 players

Morro Bay — Tuesday night featured the first big Ocean League boys basketball showdown as the undefeated Templeton Eagles headed to Morro Bay to take on the undefeated Pirates. The game was close throughout but, with Templeton down a couple of key players, Morro Bay pulled away late, winning 51-43.

Templeton junior Will Costick fights for rebound with a Morro Bay defender. (photos by Matt McFarland)

Unfortunately for Templeton, they entered the game less than 100 percent and had to play down three significant contributors in Nate Mututwa, Zach Headington and Josh Kaiser and with a hobbled reigning Athlete of the Week Xander Shaw who was nursing a sore knee.

“Our kids played well given we were missing three key players who typically play a lot of minutes,” Templeton head basketball coach Andrew Cherry said on Wednesday. “They were out due to the flu and an injury. That is not to take anything away from Morro Bay, but the player shortage and different rotations that caused definitely played a role in a slow start for us. Morro Bay is a good team and we could not make mistakes.”

The Eagles only put four points on the scoreboard in the first quarter but their defense played well enough to keep them in the game as they only trailed by single digits going into the second quarter, down 13-4. Following their slow start, Templeton erupted with the highest-scoring quarter for either team and closed to gap to only one point at 23-22.

The two teams played a completely even third quarter and the Eagles opened the final eight minutes down one point, 37-36, but could not keep their foot on the gas down so many players. 

“As the coach, I think I made a few mistakes as I should have zoned them earlier,” Cherry said. “ And I feel with all the changes I didn’t sub especially effectively. However, all-in-all, I am not disappointed given that we took them pretty much down to the end missing three key players.”

Junior Merek Hall plays defense during the Eagles loss at Morro Bay on Tuesday.

Templeton is now 8-12 overall on the season and 4-1 in the Ocean League. 

Coming up, the Eagles will get one game to heal as they head to Santa Maria to take on the 2-15 Pioneer Valley Panthers but then host the Greyhounds in a much-anticipated rematch. In the first game between the two, the Eagles came charging back in the fourth quarter to win and the Hounds have revenge on their mind. 

Templeton’s next shot against the Pirates comes at home on Feb. 7 and could potentially have big-time league implications. 

“We will get them next time around,” Cherry said. “It is what a good old fashion rivalry is all about. Two teams leading the league and both playing well in a head-to-head match. Looking forward to battling them again in February.”

Junior guard Evan Asplund takes it to the rim.

More basketball news from North County

The Greyhounds also made a long trip to Santa Maria on Tuesday night to take on the Orcutt Academy Spartans and won a tight game, 55-52. The Hounds are 11-8 on the season 3-2 in the Ocean League and currently sitting tied for third with Nipomo. 

The Bearcats were at Mission Prep Tuesday night and fell to the Royals 78-55. Paso Robles is 8-12 on the season but currently 0-2 in the Mountain League.