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Matthew Lickona 5 p.m., Dec. 9
After being gashed by Escondido guard Joe Hudson in their first meeting, No. 5 Torrey Pines vowed not to let it happen again. The Falcons kept Hudson in check after the first quarter and earned a split with an 81-64 win over the ninth-ranked Cougars.
“This game we really made an effort to be in help defense and really make it hard on Joe to get points up,” said Torrey Pines guard Max Heller. “We followed the game plan tonight.”
From the opening tip, the game looked like it would be a fast-paced shootout. Escondido had a 25-22 after a first quarter in which Hudson scored 11 of his 26 points.
“We let them have a bunch of second shots in the first quarter,” Heller said.
Torrey Pines (21-3, 6-1 Avocado) tightened up their defense in the second quarter, holding Escondido to only six points. The Falcons got also got a boost off the bench from Scott Mainquist, who scored 10 of his 13 points in the quarter, including two putback layups.
“Scotty was special tonight. He’s played like that before in games and he’s helped us,” said Torrey Pines head coach John Olive. “We have a rotation of big guys and they all get their chances. Scotty took advantage tonight.”
Escondido (15-9, 5-2) turned up the pressure to start the second half and just more than a minute in, Hudson hit a three to make it a five-point game. But after a string of turnovers, Torrey Pines took a timeout and switched up their press offense.
“We weren’t really expecting them to go full court, we hadn’t really seen that before,” Heller said. “That rattled us a little bit, but we got it together.”
Falcons guard Nick Kerr hit a three-pointer in the final seconds of the third quarter to give Torrey Pines a 59-49 lead. Torrey Pines pulled away in the fourth quarter on their way to the 17-point victory.
“This game was a huge one,” Heller said. “This was one of the biggest games of the year.”
Kerr led Torrey Pines with 23 points and was one of four Falcons in double figures, along with Heller, Mainquist and guard Jesse Neugarten. With the win, the Falcons avenged their only Avocado League loss of the season.
“We really control our own destiny,” Heller said. “We win and we’re in good shape.”
Hudson’s 26 were a game-high, but he only scored 15 after the first quarter and was kept out of the books in the second. In Escondido’s win over Torrey Pines earlier in league play, Hudson scored 40 points.
“He’s one of the best players in the county and our game plan was really to make it difficult on him,” Heller said. “Just being in help and making him shoot difficult shots. He made difficult shots at Escondido, but they weren’t falling tonight.”
Torrey Pines – 81 (22-20-17-22)
Kerr 23, Heller 15, Neugarten 12, Begovic 3, Vafiadis 3 (starters) Mainquist 13, Xu 9, Spelich 4
Escondido – 64 (25-6-18-15)
Husdon 26, N. Urquhart 15, J. Urquhart 7, Moore 6, Dunn 3 (starters) Bridges 3, Thompson 2, Sahagun 2
Torrey Pines guard Jesse Neugarten goes up for a layup against Escondido guard Joe Hudson