REGION — Ever since he and his identical twin brother started to play basketball, Bryce Pope dreamed of being a Torrey Pines Falcon.
He wanted to be one of the guys that played inside of the Falcons iconic gymnasium, affectionately dubbed the “Olive Garden” after longtime head coach John Olive.
He wanted to win league titles, a CIF championship and become the player of the year.
In his final year in a Falcons jersey, he accomplished all of those goals.
Pope led his team to a 25-7 overall record, the Avocado West League championship and the school’s first CIF Open Division Championship, and he was recently named the San Diego Section Player of the Year.
For those reasons, Pope is The Coast News’ North County Player of the Year.
“What an honor for Bryce,” Falcons Head Coach Olive said. “You’re not going to find a harder worker than he or his brother, and everything Bryce has received, he earned through hours of hard work.”
Bryce averaged 19.3 points per game and 5.9 rebounds, while shooting 53 percent from the field, 41 percent from three-point range and 86 percent from the free throw line. He is headed to UC San Diego on a basketball scholarship.
He is the third straight Falcon to win the honor. Finn Sullivan and Jake Gilliam, who are teammates at the University of San Diego, won it in 2018 and 2017, respectively.
Coach of the Year: Sam Eshelman, Carlsbad
When Sam Eshelman got the job at Carlsbad High School in 2017, he inherited a program that had gone 9-45 over the previous two seasons.
In his first two seasons, the team was 30-32, but did make it to the Division 3 championship game in 2018, losing in a triple overtime thriller to Carlsbad.
This year, however, Eshelman and the Lancers put it all together. The team went 28-7, and dominated its way to the CIF Division 2 championship, emphatically defeating top-seeded Rancho Buena Vista 72-54.
Eshelman was also named the San Diego Section Coach of the Year for his accomplishments. He is the clear choice for The Coast News North County Coach of the Year.
Michael Pope, 6-3 Sr. G, Torrey Pines — The Falcons second leading scorer at 17.2 points per game behind his brother Bryce. Pope was named to the All Avocado West First Team.
Jordan Hilstock, 6-3 Sr. G, Vista — The Player of the Year in the Avocado East League led the team in scoring and rebounds at 18.2 points and 7 rebounds per game.
Jailen Nelson, 5-10 Jr. PG, Carlsbad — Nelson transformed the Lancers offense after the 30-day sit out period, averaging 12.8 points, 5.3 rebounds and 5.1 assists per game to lead the Lancers to the Division 2 championship.
Patrick McLachlan, 6-2 Sr. G, Rancho Buena Vista – Patrick McLachlan, 6-3 2019 G, Rancho Buena Vista — The Longhorns senior averaged 17.8 points, 7.2 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game to lead the team to the most wins in school history and a CIF Division 2 runner up appearance.
Chase Pagon, 6-3 Sr. G, Santa Fe Christian – Chase Pagon, 6-3 2019 G, Santa Fe Christian — The Virginia transfer catapulted the Eagles into the Open Division and Coastal League title discussion and made the All Coastal League first team in his only season.
Obinna Anyanwu, 6-7 So. F, Cathedral Catholic — Anyanwu, who scored the game-winning layup in the Division 1 title game, averaged 17 points and 11 rebounds for the Dons in his second season. All Western League first-team selection.
Thomas Notarainni, 6-4 So. SG, Cathedral Catholic — The Dons leading scorer averaged 19 points per game and eclipsed the 1,000-point mark in only his second varsity season.
Makiah Morris, 6-2 Sr. G, Vista — Morris doubled his scoring average in his senior season, averaging 17.2 points per game en route to his first All Avocado East first team selection.
Chris Howell, 6-6 So. G, San Marcos — Making his second straight all-league first team appearance, Howell averaged 12.3 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists per game and was the team’s best defender.
Graham Cook, 6-3 Sr. — The All Avocado West First team selection (for a second straight season) averaged a team high 19.3 points per game.
Keatten Smith, 6-1 So. G, Santa Fe Christian — The All Coastal League second-team selection was arguably one of the Top 5 shooters in San Diego this season.
Keavie Love – 6-2 So. G, El Camino — Love led the Wildcats in scoring en route to his first All Avocado East First Team selection.
Noah Fields – 6-6 Jr. F, Rancho Buena Vista — Fields broke out in a big way his junior year, averaging 15.3 points and 8.2 rebounds per game on his way to his first All Avocado East First Team appearance.
Elijah Randall, 6-4 Jr. G, San Marcos — The Knights leading scorer (15.1 points) and rebounder (7.4 rebounds) was an All Avo West second-team selection.
Brandon Angel, 6-7 Jr. W, Torrey Pines — The All Avocado West second team selection averaged 10.4 points and a team-high 7.3 rebounds per game for the CIF Open Division Champions.
Devon Arlington, 6-2 Fr. G, San Marcos — All Avo West second team selection as a freshman was the Knights second leading scorer.
Caleb Nelson, 6-5 So. WF, Carlsbad — The Lancers All League 2nd teamer averaged 12 points per game and knocked down crucial shots.
Noah Viera, 6-9 Sr. C, Torrey Pines — All Avo West honorable mention had a huge game in the CIF title game.
Albert Pichardo, 6-3 Jr. F, Army Navy Academy — The heart and soul of the Warriors was named to the All Coastal League second team.
Alex Wade, 5-11 So. PG, Cathedral Catholic — Led the Dons in assists and helped guide the team to the CIF Division 1 championship.
Trevan Martin, 6-3 So. G, Santa Fe Christian — Averaged in double figures for the Open Division contenders.
Tyson Robinson, 5-11 PG, El Camino — Made the All Avocado East second team in his first season as a varsity starter, and was named to the Torrey Pines All-Tournament team.