The third-ranked La Costa Canyon girls basketball team concluded the regular season this week by extending its winning streak to 10 with stress-free triumphs over Carlsbad (76-47) and Torrey Pines (76-38). Now 22-5 on the season, LCC will advance to the CIF Open Division playoffs, featuring the top eight schools in the section.
Despite the rarefied air the Mavericks are about to enter, last Tuesday’s victory over Carlsbad may have been the result they will ultimately cherish most. That’s because the decision over the Lancers clinched an outright Avocado West League title, their 11th league crown in the last 12 years. The fact that the lone missing link in that string of success came last year at the hands of Avo West newcomer Mission Hills made this year’s championship exceptionally meaningful, particularly for second-year Head Coach Caitlin Hoffmann and her four senior starters. It was a well-earned return to normalcy in Hoffman’s eyes.
“Last year was tough to swallow, seeing the championship run end,” said Hoffmann, whose first squad recovered to win the CIF Division I banner at the end of that campaign but the sting remained. “It felt real good to beat Carlsbad and be able to claim the championship—it felt right.
“For all the hard work it’s put in, this is what this team deserved—winning the league title in decisive fashion.”
Senior center Haley Dumiak, the last in a string of Dumiak girls to star for the Mavericks, powered her way to a team-leading 25 points against Carlsbad, 17 coming int the first half. Floor general Katie Quain, another of the four senior starters, poured in 20.
“After winning so many in a row, losing the league title last year really hurt,” admitted Dumiak. “For our four seniors, Carlsbad was potentially our last home game, so that was a big thing too.
“The four of us had a conversation before the game and basically said, “this is a big, big game and we need to win.” Mission accomplished. With Dumiak and senior partner Hannah Etheridge ruling the boards and fourth senior Lindsey Zientek keying a defense that held the Lancers’ sharpshooter Maddie Huhn to just four points, LCC raced out to a 25-8 lead after the first quarter and the outcome was never in doubt.
“As a coach, it was an incredibly fun game to watch,” said Hoffmann. “They came at us with different things but nothing Carlsbad did seemed to work because we were able to counter it.
“Our seniors were really in tune. They know their careers are coming to an end and it was emotional. They put on a show and left their mark.”
The Mavericks added a nice coda on the regular season by running away from Torrey Pines on the road. Dumiak, continuing her sizzling play, registered another 25-point night and both Katie Quain and her sophomore sister, Megan, chipped in with 23. Over their final 10-game run, the Mavs have outscored opponents by an average of 33 per game.
The final conquest left LCC with a 9-1 record in the Avocado West, the only loss being a one-point home defeat against Mission Hills in the first league contest. Ironically, it was a rematch with Mission Hills, a 67-46 January 31 La Costa Canyon win, that provided a watershed moment for Dumiak.
“They were the defending champions, we lost by one after a great comeback, in the first game,” recalled Dumiak. “When we beat them by 21 on their court we knew winning the league was a real thing. It was like ‘we got this.’ “
For Katie Quain, even with the Avo West in hand, it was significant to wrap-up the regular season the right way. “Torrey Pines is our rival so it’s always a game we want to win,” she said. “It was the last league game for our seniors so it was important in that way, especially at their house and to be heading into CIF on a high note.
“The Open Division is going to be tough, moreso than last year, but good teams always have positive outlooks. You’ve got to believe that you can achieve, so we’re looking forward to it.”
Official CIF Basketball Championship brackets for all divisions are scheduled to be announced Saturday afternoon.