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Mavs can’t slow Gordon, defending champ Monarchs in Division II title game

For La Costa Canyon, the best season in school history came to a crashing end Friday night in Sacramento. In the Division II state finals at Power Balance Pavilion, the Mavericks never led in 78-57 loss to defending champ San Jose Archbishop Mitty, and ended the season one win short of a first state crown.

“We had every intention of winning this game and being state champions, so it definitely hurts,” said LCC head coach Dave Cassaw. “We’ll look back on the season and be really proud of what we did, but right now it’s disappointing.”

La Costa Canyon (34-3) trailed 15-12 after a first quarter that couldn’t have gone much worse. LCC senior forward Erik Magnuson picked up two fouls less than two minutes into the game, and the Mavericks missed their first eight field goal attempts as Archbishop Mitty (31-3) raced out to an early lead.

“Even though we were down by only three at the end of the first quarter, it didn’t feel like that,” said LCC senior guard David Travers. “It felt like a lot more because we weren’t executing well. They knew every single one of our plays and they scouted us great.”

In the second quarter, Archbishop Mitty went inside to stay in front. Monarchs junior forward Aaron Gordon had a double double at halftime – 13 points and 10 rebounds – and La Costa Canyon trailed by 10.

“Their offensive execution was the best I had seen this season,” Travers said. “They’re so disciplined, and if they weren’t throwing lobs to Gordon, he was posting up – and if they couldn’t get it into him then they had a wide-open three.”

In the first half, Travers kept La Costa Canyon within striking distance. He scored 18 of the Mavericks’ first 21 points with an array of midrange jump shots and floaters, as Gordon held LCC senior forward Matt Shrigley to one point on 0-of-4 shooting.

“It took Matt some time to adjust to being guarded by Gordon’s length and size, and we didn’t really help him because we didn’t set screens for him and didn’t get him moving,” Cassaw said. “Travers bailed us out, hit a lot of tough shots and kept it close.”

Magnuson scored the first four points of the second half to spark La Costa Canyon, but Archbishop Mitty quickly extended its lead back to double digits. Late in the third quarter Gordon converted alley-oops on consecutive possessions to put the Monarchs up 50-37, and the Mavericks trailed by 10 at the end of the quarter.

“Every time we got close they had an answer, put a run together, and put it right back on us,” Cassaw said.

La Costa Canyon came within seven points of Archbishop Mitty early in the fourth quarter, but the Monarchs responded with a 16-2 to put the game out of reach. The Mavericks trailed by as much as 21 points in the closing minutes as their season came to a decisive end.

“I was proud of our guys making that run in the second half – they clearly came together,” Cassaw said. “The guys weren’t going to roll over – they gamed it but just didn’t have enough.”

Travers led La Costa Canyon with 22 points and Shrigley scored 12 of his 13 points in the second half. In need of a good shooting performance to stay with the defending state champions, the Mavericks shot only 2-for-14 from three-point range.

“I didn’t think we played our best game tonight, but they’re a great team,” Travers said.

Gordon led Archbishop Mitty with 33 points and 20 rebounds in a dominant performance. La Costa Canyon simply had no answer for the 6-foot-8 junior that showed why he is one of the top players in the state and nation.

“He’s the best player I’ve seen on the high school level since Chase Budinger,” Cassaw said. “I haven’t seen a kid have the ability to dominate like that – his physicality is unreal and he’s a special player.”

La Costa Canyon saw its run come to a bitter end in the state championship game, a disappointing conclusion to a spectacular season. Even in defeat, the 2011-12 Mavericks established themselves as the best team in school history.

“This has been an amazing season, an amazing run, and it didn’t end the way that we wanted it to, but we’re definitely all proud of each other and we’re a family,” Travers said.

“It was a historical run and it’s a tribute to the kids, and the hard work and will they had to get to this point,” Cassaw said. “I hurt for them because I wish we could have got the win tonight, but it was really special what they’ve done this season.”

Archbishop Mitty – 78 (15-20-19-24)

Gordon 33, Vranicar 14, Biebel 9, Peters 9, White 6 (starters) Peterson 7

La Costa Canyon – 57 (12-13-19-13)

Travers 22, Shrigley 13, Beery 6, Magnuson 4, Van Dyke 0 (starters) Sachrison 8, Miller 4

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