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Mavs face defending state champ Archbishop Mitty on Friday

CARLSBAD – La Costa Canyon began the 2011-12 season targeting San Diego supremacy, and throughout the year developed into a state championship contender. The Mavericks end their season Friday night in Sacramento against defending state champion San Jose Archbishop Mitty in the Division II state finals.

“I always thought there was a state run in this team – we knew we had a legitimate chance to win the San Diego Section, and I knew if we did that we would have a shot at a deep run in state,” said LCC head coach Dave Cassaw. “All the dominos fell into place and here we are.”

After losing only one player from a 2010-11 team that won the Division I section title and advanced to the second round of the state playoffs, La Costa Canyon came into this season with high expectations. Led by two Division I signees – forward Matt Shrigley (San Diego State) and point guard David Travers (Georgia State) – the Mavericks’ primary objective at the start of the year was to defend their section championship.

“In the beginning it was totally CIF because state seemed so far down the road at the time. CIF is right there and that’s what you think about, and we won it last year,” Shrigley said. “After CIF, we knew we had a good chance to make this state run.”

As the season started to unfold, it became clear that La Costa Canyon was a legitimate state contender. After beating Hoover in the championship of the Eastlake Titan Tip-Off, the Mavericks received praise from an Eastlake coach that would prove both helpful and prophetic.

“A coach came over and told us that we had a special team, and that we could go far in the state tournament and win the state championship,” Travers said. “I think that stuck with us, and having somebody else outside of the program tell us that was a really big deal and it made us believe right from the start of the season.”

La Costa Canyon finished runner-up in the Mission Prep Christmas Classic National Division and captured the Torrey Pines Holiday Classic American Division championship – preseason success that served as springboard to a second straight Avocado West League title. The Mavericks didn’t fall to a section team during the season, losing only to Woodland Hills Taft and La Verne Lutheran.

“Some of the losses we took last season stuck with us this year,” Travers said. “We just knew how to win this year – we had a bunch of close games and we found a way to win.”

For Shrigley, thoughts of a state championship became real after La Costa Canyon beat Lincoln in the Division II section finals. The two-time defending section champion Hornets won a state title in 2010 and advanced to the state regional finals in 2011.

“That really opened our eyes to state, because Lincoln is such a good team and had been in the state playoffs the last two years,” Shrigley said. “Once we beat them, we knew we had the talent and potential to be a state team.”

Section Player of the Year Shrigley and First Team All-CIF selection Travers have starred throughout the season for La Costa Canyon, but the Mavericks’ state tournament run has showcased the team’s depth. Senior forwards Zach Beery and Erik Magnuson, and junior guard Jeff Van Dyke have made key contributions in La Costa Canyon’s three state playoff wins.

“If we didn’t have the players we have, we wouldn’t be in the state championship game,” Shrigley said. “That’s the advantage of having a team like this – we have five people that can score in double figures every game.”

In La Costa Canyon’s state opener against Woodland Hills El Camino Real, Shrigley scored 27 points and was one of four players in double figures. In the second round against Inglewood, five Mavericks scored at least nine points highlighted by five three-pointers from Van Dyke. And in the regional finals rematch against Lincoln, Beery and Magnuson led the team in scoring while the Hornets held both Travers and Shrigley to single digits.

“We have an incredible group of guys that are challenging to stop,” Travers said. “If you watch film from any of our games in the state playoffs, you’re going to get the wrong idea.”

La Costa Canyon (34-2) ends its historic campaign Friday at 8 p.m. at Power Balance Pavilion against Archbishop Mitty (30-3). The Mavericks are aiming to end their best season in school history with a first-ever state crown.

“It’s been a dream season,” Travers said. “We have one more game, and that’s what we’re most focused on. This season has been so fun to end it like this with my family and a great coach is just amazing – it leaves me speechless.”

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Pictured: La Costa Canyon faces Archbishop Mitty in the Division II state finals on Friday night in Sacramento

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