La Costa Canyon puts it all together in second half
Mavericks beat Francis Parker on opening night of the Holiday Classic at Torrey Pines High
Sure signs that the holidays have arrived: snarled traffic; mall decorations that would light up the North Pole; and if you’re a high school basketball fan, the Holiday Classic tournament hosted by Torrey Pines.
COVID-19 precautions erased the tournament last year for the first time since its inception in 1990. But the event that draws elite teams from across the nation kicked off Thursday, Dec. 23, with Tip Off Night, a triple-header featuring local teams at Torrey Pines.
“It’s great to be back,” said La Costa Canyon junior guard Ty Hendler. “We definitely missed it. I’ve been coming since I was a little kid, like 5 years old.”
Hendler created a personal memory by scoring 21 points to lead the Mavericks to an entertaining 67-61 win over Francis Parker in the Tip Off Night’s first game.
LCC came out sluggish, failing to hit a 3 in the first half, trailing 27-21 at intermission.
“The first half we were stagnant,” said Brayden Hendricks, who put up a double-double with 18 points and 11 rebounds.
“Our synergy wasn’t great,” said Hendler.
“We didn’t have the best ball movement (the first half),” added Hendricks.
If the Mavericks were looking for a spark it was supplied by Vincent Berlucchi. After Parker stretched the lead to eight points on its first second-half possession, Berlucchi hit a 3-pointer, was fouled and converted the four-point play.
Berlucchi only scored six points, but the four-point play was pivotal.
“I felt like we were ice cold the first half,” said La Costa Canyon coach Dave Cassaw, in his 23rd season at the helm of the Mavs. “But after the four-point play, they started falling.”
LCC hit five treys in the second half.
Hendricks gave LCC the lead for good with 6:02 to play when he scored on a drive, was fouled and converted the three-point play for a 52-51 edge.
It was left for Hendler to cement the win by scoring eight of LCC’s final 10 points. The junior scored 18 of his 21 points in the second half. LCC improved to 6-3, while Parker fell to 6-4.
No one, though, may have enjoyed the victory more than Hendricks. Achilles and ankle injuries forced him to miss his junior year last season.
“It’s just awesome to be back with my team,” he said. “It’s about winning games with your teammates.”
For Parker, four players scored in double figures, led by Camden McCormick with 26. McCormick scored 27 the night before in a win against Canyon Crest Academy.
In the second game, Carlsbad defeated Mater Dei Catholic 72-49. Freshman guard Jake Hall led the Lancers with 26 points, including five 3-pointers. K.J. Gonzalez led the Crusaders with 17 points.
The Holiday Classic runs Dec. 27-30. For schedules and more information, visit theholidayclassic.org.
— Don Norcross is a freelance writer.
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