Eva Knott 7:43 p.m., April 15
Falcons start slow, can’t keep up with athletic Diablos in defeat
CARMEL VALLEY – For section power Torrey Pines, a state victory is still elusive. Wednesday night in the first round of the Division I state playoffs, the eighth-seeded Falcons started slow and couldn’t match the athleticism of ninth-seeded Mission Viejo in a season-ending 70-62 loss.
“They had a lot of weapons and they outplayed us tonight – it’s as simple as that,” said Torrey Pines senior guard Joe Rahon.
Mission Viejo (28-4) scored the first five points of the game and had a 10-3 lead midway through the opening quarter. Torrey Pines (22-11) had trouble stopping the Diablos early, and trailed 22-11 after the first quarter.
“Defensively we couldn’t get a stop early,” Rahon said. “That slow start wasn’t ideal for us.”
Torrey Pines scored the first seven points in the second quarter, and went into halftime down 38-32 after a back and forth quarter. While Rahon and senior guard Garrett Galvin struggled to get open looks against athletic Mission Viejo, sophomore forward Sam Worman kept the Falcons in the game with 13 first-half points.
“We tried different things – we tried running plays, we tried running a motion offense, we tried spreading them out and trying to attack,” Rahon said. “They did a great job defending us, and we just couldn’t figure it out and get into a flow.”
At the start of the second half, Torrey Pines kept pace with Mission Viejo and trailed by four points midway through the third quarter. But the Diablos closed the quarter on a 17-4 run – including a four-point play and three-point play on consecutive possessions by junior guard Evan Zeller – and took a 17-point lead into the fourth quarter.
“It was in transition and we were a bit lost. I saw (Zeller) and I tried to get across the court and contest his shot, and I guess I hit him,” Rahon said. “He made a great shot and that was a big momentum play. They went on that run and we couldn’t recover from that.”
Torrey Pines opened the fourth quarter on a 9-0 run, and pulled within eight of Mission Viejo on a Rahon jumper with 6:05 remaining. That was as close as the Falcons would get until the final minute, as the Diablos made enough free throws down the stretch to thwart a comeback attempt by the hosts.
“We tried to make a run at it, but they came out in the third quarter strong and made plays,” Rahon said. “They’re a good team and they took us out of what we wanted to do early. By the time we got going and figured their defense out, it was just a little too late.”
Rahon scored a game-high 21 points to lead Torrey Pines, finishing in double figures along with Galvin (15 points) and Worman (15). The Falcons have come up short in the first round of the state playoffs in three of the past four seasons, and are still looking for their first state win in program history.
“I’m proud of our guys – we battled and battled and never gave up,” said Torrey Pines head coach John Olive. “We got down early and made a run, got down again and made another run.”
Torrey Pines had trouble on both ends of the floor against a Mission Viejo team that featured a blend of basketball talent and athleticism. The Diablos boasted a college-caliber high jumper down low in 6-foot-7 senior forward Sage Stone, and a trio of Division I football recruits in the backcourt – senior guard Austin Reuland (Yale), senior forward Jahleel Pinner (USC), and junior guard Max Redfield.
“They’re a very talented team and they had lots of answers – they’re a very good team at every position,” Oilve said. “They had tremendous athletes, good size, quickness, and skill.”
Senior guard Michael Cramer led a balanced Mission Viejo attack with 16 points. The Southern Section Division 1AA runner-up Diablos made history with their first state playoff victory, and advance to face top-seeded Santa Ana Mater Dei in the second round on Saturday.
“I never have to question how hard they work,” said Mission Viejo head coach Troy Roelen. “They work very hard, they’re very unselfish, and what we lack in basketball we make up for in athleticism.”
Mission Viejo – 70 (22-16-19-13)
Cramer 16, Redfield 14, Zeller 14, Stone 12, Pinner 9 (starters) Anderson 5
Torrey Pines – 62 (11-21-8-22)
Rahon 21, Galvin 15, Worman 15, Murray 3, Milmoe 0 (starters) Wagner 7, Wulff 1
Pictured: Torrey Pines forward Sam Worman goes up for a shot between two Mission Viejo defenders
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