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Defensive switch in second half keys Mavs’ championship victory

CARMEL VALLEY – La Costa Canyon didn’t get off to a great start against Santa Maria Righetti in the Holiday Classic American Division championship on Friday night, but did enough to prevail. The Mavericks made a key defensive adjustment at halftime and erased a five-point first half deficit to beat the Warriors 60-52 at Torrey Pines High and win their second tournament title in three seasons.

“We found out a lot about the toughness and the grit of this team, especially today when we got down a little bit and had to respond,” said La Costa Canyon head coach Dave Cassaw.

La Costa Canyon (14-1) took a 7-2 lead to start the game, but Righetti bounced back with four three-pointers and had a four-point lead at the end of the first quarter. The Mavericks trailed 31-26 at halftime against a Warriors team they beat by 10 in the Mission Prep Christmas Classic on Dec. 17.

“They’re a great team and they played consistently – they just jumped on us really early,” said La Costa Canyon forward Matt Shrigley.

Righetti 6-foot-5 guard Hunter Walker scored 18 points in the first half while being guarded by Mavericks 6-foot-3 junior guard Jeff Van Dyke, making four three-pointers. At halftime, La Costa Canyon put the 6-foot-5 Shrigley on Walker hoping to slow him down.

“Me and coach Cassaw kind of had the same thing in mind – at the end of the second quarter I asked if I could go on him and he already thought about that. At halftime he told me we needed to ‘D’ him up and that was my job,” Shrigley said. “We’re both the same size, so it was a switch from having a smaller guard on him. It was a better matchup.”

Shrigley held Walker scoreless in the entire second half as La Costa Canyon took control of the game. The Mavericks opened the third quarter with a 14-2 run to take a seven-point lead over Righetti (10-2) and maintained control in a close game.

“That has been the personality of this team this week – we’ll be in a rhythm during a game and all of a sudden it goes away,” Cassaw said. “It took us some time to get into it tonight for whatever reason.”

Righetti guard Patrick Sims hit a three-pointer at the third-quarter buzzer to make it 46-46 headed into the final period. La Costa Canyon didn’t lose the lead after a Van Dyke scored the first points of the quarter on a three-pointer with 5:46 remaining, and held Righetti to five points in the fourth quarter to seal the eight-point win.

“It’s a big confidence builder playing in such a competitive division, so it’s always nice,” Shrigley said.

Shrigley scored 16 points and earned American Division Most Valuable Player honors. Senior guard David Travers (16 points), senior forward Zach Beery (10), and Van Dyke (15) also finished in double figures for the Mavericks.

“It’s a great tournament and I have a lot of great players on my team,” Shrigley said. “It’s about everyone involved in that – so the reward doesn’t mean as much to me personally.”

La Costa Canyon came into the Holiday Classic as the top-ranked team in the section, and its performance in the American Division did nothing to disprove that. The Mavericks have the talent and depth to contend for a section and state title in Division II.

“We got a lot out of this. I see so many things we need to improve upon, and we didn’t execute very well overall,” Cassaw said. “We have some technical things to work on.”

Along with Walker’s game-high 19 points, senior forward Ryan McGready scored 10. Each of the Warriors’ two losses this season have come to La Costa Canyon.

La Costa Canyon – 60 (15-11-20-14)

Travers 16, Shrigley 16, Van Dyke 15, Beery 10, Sachrison 3 (starters)

Righetti – 52 (19-12-15-6)

H. Walker 18, McGready 10, Regalado 8, C. Walker 5, Stevens 2 (starters) McMorris 6, Sims 3


Pictured: La Costa Canyon forward Matt Shrigley takes a shot to the head from Righetti guard Hunter Walker on the drive

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