La Jolla students compete among 72 high school basketball teams in Holiday Classic tournament


By Michael Ragovin

The 23rd annual Holiday Classic presented by Lucky Duck Foundation took place Dec. 26-29, 2012 with teams from across San Diego country participating by invitation only.

Five different venues hosted the 72 teams. Each venue represented a different division: Torrey Pines High School-National Division, La Jolla Country Day High School-American Division, Rancho Bernado High School-Senator’s Cup Division, Carlsbad High School-Mayor’s Cup Division and Santa Fe Christian High School-Governor’s Cup Division.

Each division was a tournament within the tournament crowning a separate champion, most valuable player, all tournament team, etc.

Tournament director John Olgive said during his pre-tournament press conference that, ”For a young man who is able to play in a national game in front of a packed house, it’s a lifetime experience and memory.” Historically, many participants have gone on to careers in the NBA, such as Derrick Williams and Kyrie Irving, who were the No. 1 and 2 draft choices a couple of years ago. Chase Budinger from La Costa Canyon also was an NBA draftee.

Olgive said the tournament is able to attract high quality players and teams year after year because “this is San Diego and we have been doing this for 22 years. Our hospitality is second to none.”

Many college coaches were in attendance to observe the highly sought-after athletes, including SDSU head basketball coach Steve Fisher, who was observing his two signees from Sheldon High School in Sacramento — D’erryl Williams and Dakari Allen.

• Torrey Pines High School wins Mayor’s Cup Division

Three of the division title games were played at Torrey Pines on Dec. 29, beginning with The Mayor’s Cup Division.

This contest matched the Torrey Pines Falcons against Sierra Canyon Trailblazers of Chatsworth with Torrey Pines winning the championship 56-35.

It began as a tightly-contested game with the score at the end of the first quarter Torrey Pines 9, Sierra Canyon 8. Torrey Pines started pulling away during the second half of the second quarter with the half ending Torrey Pines 26, Sierra Canyon 20.

Torrey Pines tightened up its defense causing turnovers and a cold shooting spell to begin the third quarter and continued throughout the rest of the game. The Falcons outscored the Trailblazers 30 to 15 in the second half.

Sierra Canyon committed 19 personal fouls as compared to seven for Torrey Pines. The Falcons scored 11 points on free throws and Sierra Canyon missed both of theirs. This accounted for half of the point differential.

Sam Worman of Torrey Pines led all scorers with 20 points and was the Mayor’s Cup Division Most Valuable Player. Dominic Hovasse chipped in with 17 points and Connor Milmoe was named to the all Mayor’s Cup Division tournament team for Torrey Pines.

• Mission Hills High School wins American Division

The second championship game was for the American Division title between the Mission Hills Grizzlies of San Marcos and the Mesa Jackrabbits of Mesa, Ariz. The Mission Hills Grizzlies prevailed 60-53.

The game was fast paced from the beginning. Both teams had difficulty converting layup opportunities throughout the game and could not effectively get the ball down low to their big men. Mesa’s 6-foot-10 center Isaac Allen had only three, two-point field goals and made three of seven free throws for a total 9 points. Mission Hills 7-foot center Kameron Rooks had only five two-point field goals and converted one of five free throw attempts adding up to 15 total points. The score at the end of the first quarter was Mission Hills 18, Mesa 16.

Scoring dropped off in the second quarter with Mission Hills scoring only eight and Mesa totaling only 12. Mesa went into the final period ahead 43-38 as a result of some fine outside shooting and ball movement.

Unfortunately for Mesa, their shooting cooled off and they managed to score only 10 points in the final quarter while Mission Hills scored 22. With 29 seconds left, C.J. Wilson stole a pass and converted the lay in to put Mission Hills ahead to stay. Kibret Woldemichel of Mission Hills scored 26 points and was named the Ameican Division Most Valuable Player.

Kameron Rooks chipped 15 point for Mission Hills. D.J. Hendeson of Mesa scored 12 points and was named to the all tournament team as well.

Sheldon High School wins National Division Championship

The final title game at Torrey Pines was between the St. Augustine Saints from San Diego and the Sheldon Huskies from Sacramento. The Saints were coming off a huge upset victory over Salesian High School of Richmond, ranked 17th nationally by ESPN. Sheldon, however, defeated St. Augustine 64-47.

The Saints managed to keep it close in the first period even though their shooting was very cold from the beginning and throughout. The Huskies didn’t play much better as the first period ended with Sheldon in the lead 14-10.

The second period saw Sheldon begin to get second shot opportunities while St. Augustine continued its poor shooting although the score at the end of the second period was Huskies 30, Saints 24.

Still very much a ball game, the wheels started to come off at the beginning of the third period when Sheldon went on a 10-1 run making the score 40-25 ultimately outscoring the St. Augustine 23-9 in the third quarter.

The Saints played poor defensively and could not find an offensive rhythm. This was partially due to the pressing and trapping defense applied by Sheldon.

The game was decided in the third quarter when the Huskies outscored the Saints 23-9. The period ended with Sheldon ahead 53-33. Sheldon scored 28 field goals to 14 for the Saints, indicative of St. Augustine’s very cold shooting.

Another large factor was the turnover ratio. The Saints had four turnovers for every one the Huskies committed.

Dakarai Allen of the Huskies led all scorers with 21 points and was named Most Valuable Player of the National Division. Dakarai will be attending San Diego State next year. Brynton Lemar, senior guard, led the Saints with 19 points.

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