Torrey Pines champions in national tournament
Team improves to 12-1 in front of home crowd
If the Del Mar mayor’s office isn’t big enough to house a high school basketball team, it better start expanding.
The Torrey Pines Falcons just got elected.
Nick Kerr scored a game-high 21 points and Max Heller added 16 more as Torrey Pines High School defeated St. Mary’s of Stockton, 63-58, for the mayor’s division championship in the MaxPreps holiday classic. The game was not nearly as close as the final score indicated, as the Falcons led by 11 with under a minute to play.
Torrey Pines is now 12-1 on the season despite the loss of impact sophomore Joe Rahon, who averaged 13 points per contest last year.
“The night we heard about Joe’s injury, I immediately called Nick [Kerr] and said ‘we’ve got to step up this season,’” said Heller, who was named to the all-tournament team.
The Falcons led 20-6 at the end of the first quarter, but then did not score again until Kerr made a fast-break lay-up with three minutes remaining in the half.
“Sometimes this team has a tendency to let up a little bit, our shots weren’t falling but we got out to such a big lead it didn’t hurt us too much,” Heller said.
It also helped that the Rams weren’t scoring either. St. Mary’s could only muster five points of their own during that Torrey Pines scoreless stretch before finally finding their shot late in the quarter. The Falcons recovered enough to go into the break up by four.
“I knew that it was far from over,” said Torrey Pines Head Coach John Olive. “I knew it was going to be a tough, hard-fought game. We were a little bit lucky they missed some shots they normally would make.”
The coach was right. St. Mary’s cut the deficit to two early in the third quarter when a Sean Fenner put-back went off the glass and in. But that was as close as the Rams would come.
The Falcons regained control when a right corner three from Heller put them up five with 4:15 to play in the same frame. Still, the junior guard wasn’t done. He immediately stole the ensuing inbounds pass, was fouled as he made the lay-up, and converted the three-point play at the line.
The game seemed to be truly out of reach midway through the fourth after the Falcons opened a 54-39 lead with 4:27 left. But St. Mary’s guard John Smith and forward Alex Simmons combined for 13 quick points in a late desperation barrage that was aided by fouls and timeouts, ultimately cutting the deficit to four.
Kerr refused to let them complete the comeback, countering the St. Mary’s scores with eight points from the charity stripe in the final minutes. The tournament’s MVP finished a perfect 10 for 10 from the line, and was able to keep it a multi-possession contest just long enough for the clock to expire.
“They’re having great years,” Olive said of Kerr and Heller. “They’ve got to be our leaders on the floor and they’ve done that. They’ve really stepped up, helped others out and still produced themselves.”
The Falcons are off until Jan. 15, when they host Maranatha Christian at 7 p.m.
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