BBK: Royals put up a fight in loss to No. 2 Atascadero

San Marcos didn’t back down against second-seeded Atascadero, but the host Greyhounds had too many weapons and made their free throws down the stretch to eliminate the Royals, 51-45, in a CIF 3AA Division second-round playoff game Friday night.

“We played our best game since before Channel League, so that felt good to finally get back to what I thought we were capable of,” said San Marcos coach Dave Odell.

The Royals were down by only two points (42-40) with 2:53 left in the fourth quarter after Bryce Ridenour drained a 3-pointer. But Florida State-bound Robbie Berwick picked up Atascadero with a basket, and the Greyhounds made 7 of 8 free throws in the final minute to squelch the upset threat.

Odell said Ridenour played his best game of the year. The senior had 11 points 4 assists and 5 blocked shots. “He, with a little help from Christian Widmer, kept Berwick to 14 points, well below his average,” Odell said.

Sophomore Scott Everman led all scorers with 17 points.

“We’ve seen Scott break out a few times this year. I think he’s capable of that every night. It will be fun to see what he accomplishes next year,” said Odell.

San Marcos got off to a rough start in the loud and rowdy Atascadero gym, falling behind 9-0 and 11-1.

“We had some early game jitters in the hostile environs of the Hound Hut,” said Odell.

The Royals eventually settled down and closed out the quarter on a 9-3 run to pull to within four at 14-10.

Kele Mkpado and Marcus Alvarado played well off the bench and helped the Royals pull even at 26-26 in the second quarter.

San Marcos thought it took the lead at halftime when Ridenour hit a three pointer at the buzzer. The basket was initially ruled good by one official, but it was overruled by the other official.

“That was a tough one, but I think the officials got the call right, “ Odell said.

The Royals took their only lead of the game at 31-30 about three minutes into the third quarter, but Atascadero answered with a 10-3 run to go up 42-35 to start the fourth.

Despite the loss, Odell like how his team performed against a top-notch opponent.

“I left the game really pleased with our effort,” he said. “We really stuck to the plan and had them on the ropes. In the end, digging ourselves the early hole and then missing 9 of 15 free throws left us feeling like we’d blown an opportunity to upset a very good team.

“Atascadero is a team of guys who have played together for years. And they have several great players in addition to Berwick. They are the highest ranked team we’ve played all year and we were in their gym. It’s hard to be too disappointed after my guys fought really hard to pull this off. But it left me wanting more.”