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Kabellis, Escondido advance to Division I finals

REGION — Khyber Kabellis is making quick work of his senior-year checklist.

Receive a Division 1 scholarship offer? Check.

Sign to a Division 1 university for basketball? Check.

Lead team to a Division 1 title game? Check.

The latest check in the box came on Tuesday, as Kabellis dropped in a season-high 29 points to propel the Cougars past Poway, 72-48, in the Division 1 Semifinal matchup.

Escondido will face Morse, who defeated Francis Parker 61-47 in the other semifinal matchup. The teams will meet in the championship game at 1:07 p.m. Saturday at Jenny Craig Pavilion.

“It feels great. Everyone on our team worked so hard this past Summer and Fall to put ourselves in a position to succeed,” Kabellis said.

The Cougars got 17 points and 18 rebounds from 6-foot-10 junior center Keegan Cummins, one of the county’s most improved players from the start of the season.

Poway was led by senior guard Dalton Soffer, who scored 19 points in his final high-school game. Soffer, who was a club teammate of Kabellis during the past two offseasons, is headed to Seton Hall on a basketball scholarship.

Kabellis, a 6-foot-4 senior guard who signed to play college basketball at North Dakota State, was in the same scenario last season, with his team hosting an underdog opponent in the semifinals, only to see the dream dashed in defeat.

Last year’s semifinal opponent? Morse, which went on to win the Division 1 title over San Marcos.

The Tigers will be ever tough, as they have a starting lineup that boasts one Divsion 1 signee, two potential Division 1 players and a third that has the potential to be a McDonald’s All American.

The third player is 6-foot-11 sophomore Robert McCoy, who notched 29 points and 30 rebounds in the Tigers win over Parker.

This year, Kabellis said he hopes the outcome will be different.

“We’ve worked hard all year with the goal in mind of winning a championship so it would be great to win it,” Kabellis said. “It feels great to play against Morse again, I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Another North County team also punched its ticket to a championship game Tuesday night. Pacific Ridge, a relatively new private school in Carlsbad, advanced to the Division 4 championship game after defeating Vincent Memorial of Calexico 61-56 in the semifinal matchup. The Firebirds face El Capitan of Lakeside at 11:07 a.m. Friday at Jenny Craig Pavilion.

Three other North County teams are playing Wednesday night for a berth in the CIF Open Division championship game, the highest division in the San Diego Section.

Torrey Pines, the top-seeded team, hosts Army Navy, and La Costa Canyon hosts St. Augustine in the                                               semifinal games.