CARLSBAD – In its first state test in five years, La Costa Canyon relied on a potent offensive attack to earn a passing mark. Tuesday night at home, the sixth-seeded Mavericks defeated 11th-seeded Los Angeles Washington Prep 81-70 in the first round of the CIF State Division I Southern California Regionals.
“It was our last home game, so to come out and play well in front of our home crowd was a huge thing for all of us,” said La Costa Canyon forward Drew Kitchens. “We all wanted this win, and we played really well tonight and represented San Diego well.”
After an even first quarter, La Costa Canyon (29-4) got hot from three-point range to jump out in front. The Mavericks made five three-pointers in the first three minutes of the second quarter to take a 34-22 lead and had a 10-point lead at the half after scoring 26 points in the quarter.
“When you’re feeling it as a team, you’re feeling it,” Kitchens said. “We got great looks and everyone just stepped in and shot.”
The only thing that kept Washington Prep (22-8) in the game in the first half was a decided rebounding advantage. On the offensive end, the Generals grabbed rebounds that led to numerous second-chance points.
“Rebounding was disappointing,” said La Costa Canyon head coach Dave Cassaw. “I felt like if we would have held them to one shot, we would have been in far more control of the game. We knew coming in that they were a great rebounding team.”
The pace of the game slowed down in the second half, and Washington Prep cut into La Costa Canyon’s lead by driving to the hoop. With 1:40 to play in the third quarter Generals guard Antawan Sims hit a three to make it a four-point game, and La Costa Canyon led by six points headed into the fourth quarter.
“We attacked the basket when they were trying to trap us. Shots weren’t going to fall all game like they did in the first half,” Kitchens said. “We kept cutting to the basket and getting to the foul line.”
In the final quarter Washington Prep came as close as five points, but La Costa Canyon was able to close out the Generals down the stretch. The Mavericks made all 12 of their free throw attempts in the fourth quarter as they went on to win by 11 points.
“State wins are huge and it’s a rare time of the year for teams to still be playing,” Cassaw said. “Hopefully we can do something more with it.”
Kitchens scored a game-high 28 points and was one of three La Costa Canyon players that reached the 20-point mark. Forward Matt Shrigley scored 26 points and guard David Travers added 20 for the Mavericks.
“We have such great scorers on this team that I’ll take an open shot if I get one and if I’m not open, I’ll swing it to the next guy,” Kitchens said. “We have guys that can all score and we had pretty balanced scoring tonight.”
On the back end of a state doubleheader, the Mavericks lifted the spirits of a full house that had watched the LCC girls team fall 68-65 to Rancho Cucamonga to begin the evening. Cassaw said his team watching the girls game helped them mentally prepare for the challenge of a state playoff game.
“It helped them realize what this state thing is all about,” Cassaw said. “We’ve watched our girls beat everybody all year long, and to watch a team come in and go toe-to-toe with them showed us that this state level is a big step up.“
La Costa Canyon faces third-seeded Woodland Hills Taft (28-2) in the second round of the state playoffs on Thursday night in Los Angeles. The Toreadors beat 15th-seeded Clovis West 83-45 in the first round.
“We’re ready for any game and we’re looking to win,” Kitchens said. “We think we can beat anyone and we’re excited about the opportunity.”
For Washington Prep, guard Christopher Brown led the team with 21 points. The Generals were semifinalists in the Los Angeles City Section playoffs.
La Costa Canyon – 81 (18-26-17-20)
Kitchens 28, Shrigley 26, Travers 20, Beery 5, Van Dyke 0 (starters) Sachrison 2
Washington Prep – 70 (18-16-21-15)
Brown 21, Harvey Jr. 17, Scott 12, Norton-Jones 4, Shaw 3 (starters) Sims 9, Phillips 2, Cox 2
La Costa Canyon forward Matt Shrigley throws down a dunk against Washington Prep