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Falcons control second half to take down Panthers, end title drought

UNIVERSITY OF SAN DIEGO – In a wide-open Division I title race, second-seeded Torrey Pines rose to the top. Saturday night at Jenny Craig Pavilion, the Falcons stifled fifth-seeded Vista in the second half to end an 11-year section title drought with a 55-41 victory.

“From the start of the season this was our main goal – to get to the CIF championship and win it,” said Torrey Pines senior guard Joe Rahon. “We knew we had the team to do it, and we hit some bumps along the way – but that just makes it more special.”

Torrey Pines (22-10) led by one after an even first quarter, and Vista opened the second quarter with a 13-1 run to build a double-digit lead. The Falcons absorbed the Panthers’ best shot, and Rahon scored just before the buzzer to cut Vista’s lead to 29-24 by halftime.

“I knew we had to get control of the offense,” said Torrey Pines head coach John Olive. “I kept telling my kids play better on the offensive end, share the ball more, get better ball movement, and we’ll be alright.”

Armed with a halftime defensive adjustment from Olive, Torrey Pines methodically took over the game in the second half. The Falcons held Vista (25-8) to seven points in the third quarter and scored the last six points of the quarter to take a 42-36 lead into the fourth.

“We went zone to start the second half, and it kind of flustered them a little bit – they got stagnant offensively,” Rahon said. “Right when they started to figured it out, we went back to man-to-man and they still thought we were in zone. Our defense won us the game in the second half.”

Vista’s offensive woes continued in the fourth quarter as Torrey Pines slowly pulled away. The Falcons held the Panthers to 12 second half points to comfortably capture the crown in the championship nightcap.

“We’ve been a very good defensive team for a while now, so that doesn’t surprise me,” Olive said. “I’m very proud of our effort.”

Senior guard Garrett Galvin scored a game-high 27 points – including 18 in the second half – to lead Torrey Pines. Rahon finished with 19, as the Falcons’ backcourt duo continued its assault on postseason opponents.

“We’re close friends on and off the court, and we want nothing more than to win,” Rahon said. “We don’t care which one scores the most points or gets the most shots. It’s all about who’s hot, and we’ll give it to them. Garrett had a great second half – he really carried us offensively.”

For Torrey Pines, the championship marks the sixth in program history. The Falcons also ended a recent run of finals futility, a stretch that included two title game losses in the past three seasons.

“We made it to the CIF semifinals six years in a row, and we were never able to get over the hump,” Rahon said. “We finally did it – we just clamped down and kept working defensively and offensively, and it all worked out.”

Senior guard John Fletcher led Vista with 18 points, and senior forward Sedrick Childress finished with 12. The Panthers fell short in their first finals appearance since 1995.

Torrey Pines – 55 (14-10-18-13)

Galvin 27, Rahon 19, Worman 4, Murray 3, Milmoe 2 (starters)

Vista – 41 (13-16-7-5)

Fletcher 18, Childress 12, Johnson 6, Arnold 5, Co. Nyenhuis 0 (starters)


Pictured: Vista guard John Fletcher drives against Torrey Pines guard Joe Rahon in the Division I finals

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