Taking a jet ride instead of a bus ride from San Diego to Sacramento might have been the best decision of the week for La Jolla Country Day School in preparation for its CIF state Division III championship basketball game against San Francisco University on Friday, March 8 at Golden 1 Center.
Looking fresh, fast and fit, the Torreys surged to a 20-point lead in the first half and never looked back en route to winning their first state championship in boys basketball with a 67-39 victory.
Coach Ryan Meier, in his 14th season, was able to watch a mostly veteran team execute his game plan to perfection, never losing its poise and answering a brief University comeback bid at the outset of the third quarter with a powerful response. Princeton-bound Ryan Langborg settled down the Torreys with key contributions after an 8-0 University run pulled the Red Devils to within eight points.
"I think we imposed our style on them and maintained it," Meier said.
Langborg, a 6-foot-4 senior primarily known for his 3-point shooting, showed he has added more versatility to his game as he prepares to leave for college. He had 10 rebounds in the first half, helping compensate for the absence of 6-10 Jayson Taylor (four fouls). He finished with 23 points and 17 rebounds.
"It's do whatever is needed most," Langborg said. "Most important was winning the state championship. It's awesome. Winning state is a priceless moment."
From the game's outset, the Torreys were executing. They got the ball inside to Taylor for easy baskets, then went to their outside game to open a 30-10 lead early in the second quarter. It was a team effort, with freshman James Hapgood finishing with 14 points and Taylor adding 12 points and eight rebounds. The Torreys out rebounded University 47-27.
"We wanted to make them shoot from outside and thankfully they didn't make a lot of them," Langborg said.
The Hapgood twins, James and John, started all season as freshmen and helped the Torreys overcome injuries that caused disruptions during a 22-13 season. But they were at their healthiest of the season on Friday and performed like a state championship team should.
"This is a dream come true," Meier said in singling out seniors Langborg, Taylor and Ray Lu.
The girls program has won four state titles, so it was a breakthrough moment for the boys program.
Beating University proved to be the way to a state title. The Torreys earlier rallied from a 20-4 deficit to defeat Los Angeles University in the quarterfinals before taking down the University from San Francisco to win a ring.
"It's a great feeling," Langborg said in the interview room afterward with a net draped around his shoulders. "I'm excited to go back to San Diego and celebrate."