'We are one of the most dangerous teams' as Cuesta College ready for first round of playoffs

juani dassi.jpg
Posted at 11:49 PM, Feb 21, 2023

It's been a season of peaks and valleys for the Cuesta College men's basketball program. Starting out their conference slate losing five in a row to ending it by rattling off six wins in their last seven games, the Cougars found a way to make it into the CCCAA SoCal Regional playoffs as an underdog and one teams might not want to face in the postseason.

“We are one of the most dangerous teams that nobody wants to play,” Argentinian sophomore Juani Dassi stated.

It’s a confident statement for a team that went 15-13 overall in the regular season but Atascadero native and freshman, Drew Ardouin, would tell you all it took was a few losses early on to set things back in motion.

“We were down in in the dirt a little bit, but I think I think after a couple of losses, we just relaxed,” Ardouin said with a shrug.

It’s easy to relax when two of your top scorers are both two of the most lethal weapons from the three-point line in the entire state.

Ardouin and Dassi lead the team in points with Ardouin pouring in 18.7 points per game while Dassi right behind averaging 16.6. Even more impressive, both of them are the only two players in the state at any level to make over 100 3-point field goals this season.

“It's tough to play against a team that has two shooters that have made 100 threes and they're shooting close to 50%, both of them,” Head Coach Rusty Blair said, now in his 31st year with the program.

With that great shooting, the deadeye duo has helped the Cougars become an offensive threat whether it’s helping each other out in the stat sheet or opening up the floor for other dynamic scorers like sophomore guard Aaron Russell or freshman forward Mason Romano.

“We just build upon each other. I help him, he helps me,” Dassi said. “We focus on getting a good amount of movement and getting the open shots, and we've been fortunate enough to knock them down this season.”

The team heads into playoffs with a lot of momentum especially after proving they could play with some of the best junior college teams in the state throughout the whole season. They’ll have a tough test in the first round as the 22-seed taking on Mt. San Jacinto College; a team that’s won 12 of their last 13 games.

They’ll look to stay strong on the road in regionals against the Eagles. Tip-off set for 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 22.