Mavericks cagers rock Torrey Pines, confirm CIF Open Division slot
Three La Costa Canyon players scored in double figures and the Mavericks held visiting Torrey Pines to 11 first half points en route to a 59-41 triumph over their Palomar League rivals Friday night, Feb. 10. The victory secured a berth for LCC in the upcoming CIF Open Division playoffs which start next Friday, Feb. 17.
La Costa Canyon closes out the regular season at 15-11 overall and 7-3 in league action, good for a second place finish behind Carlsbad. Torrey Pines, which will also be in the Open Division bracket, fell to 18-10 overall and 5-5 in Palomar play. Their fourth place league finished marked the first time in 10 years they were not league champions.
The triumph, played in front of an exuberant bipartisan crowd, was LCC’s first in the series with Torrey Pines, snapping a 15-game skid that started in 2015. In light of what’s still ahead, veteran Maverick Head Coach Dave Cassaw kept the result in perspective.
“It wasn’t a playoff win or anything like that,” smiled Cassaw afterward, “but it’s definitely really, really nice because I know how much our kids and our LCC community wanted to beat Torrey.”
The contest was diametrically opposite of the 76-63 decision in favor of Torrey Pines when the two squads met 21 nights prior in Del Mar. In fact, the 32-11 advantage the Mavericks took into halftime in the second meeting was nearly a mirror image of the 31-11 lead Torrey held at the break in the first get together.
Six-foot-10 senior Wes Smith, a volleyball player who joined the LCC hoops roster just three weeks back, right after the loss to TP, led the Mavs in scoring with 17 points but the total hardly defines how his presence changed the dynamics of the match-up. With Smith patrolling the rim defensively, the Falcons’ interior game was effectively nullified and the other four players on the floor were able to put extra pressure on Torrey’s perimeter shooters without worrying about getting beat off the dribble.
“He certainly changes things,” said Cassaw. “His length and rebounding and just the fact that they have to account for him—it opens things up for all the other guys on both ends of the floor.”
Junior Trevor Ladd, the only non-senior in the starting lineup, chalked up 14 points and Ty Hendler chipped in with 12 for LCC. Both were non-stop catalysts offensively and defensively—moving the ball, getting to the basket, disrupting passing lanes and grabbing rebounds.
Six-foot-five senior Christian Brown, the Mavericks’ leading scorer on the season at 21 points per game was held to just seven but was still able to contribute and, like Smith, created space for his teammates by drawing defensive attention.
LCC controlled this one from the outset but, as in the first encounter, the trailing team made a second half run. This time, when Smith went to the bench with foul trouble, Torrey immediately got its offense humming, both inside and outside, narrowing the gap from 21 to 14 at the end three quarters and down to a dozen early in the fourth. Cassaw was concerned but pleased with his team’s reply to the comeback attempt.
“There was that moment in time when they cut it to 12, it was like ‘oh boy, here we go,’ “ he said. “I was impressed with our guys at that point because when things start to backslide like that it can be one of the toughest things to overcome, guys can get tight.
“We didn’t do that. We were able to make some big buckets, get some stops and put the game away.”
Senior JJ Bartelloni paced Torrey Pines with 13 points and junior Zach Jackson accounted for 10, all in the second half.
Long-time Torrey Pines Head Coach John Olive had praise for both teams afterward. “LCC, that’s a very good basketball team, they’ve got a lot of answers, a lot of talent and obviously added a 6-10 kid who can make a difference,” he said. “We were a little overwhelmed early on and looked out of sorts. To the kids credit, they regrouped and got back to being themselves in the second half.”
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