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Carlsbad’s Sage Creek High School basketball team makes an improbable run through the Division 3 bracket as the 10th seed en route to winning their first championship title in school history. Photo by Aaron Burgin
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Sage Creek captures first hoops title in school history

CARLSBAD — When Brandon Dowdy was hired as Sage Creek’s first varsity basketball head coach in school history in 2015, he spoke to the 11th grade basketball players, including point guard and team leader Xavier Allison.

The group of juniors, which had played junior varsity basketball for two years, were about to embark on their first varsity season, and Dowdy said he told them his goal — to win a CIF title by the time they were seniors.

“I told them that I believed they could win a CIF title, but it would take a lot of work and a lot of sacrifices,” Dowdy said.

Flash forward to last Saturday, and the speech Dowdy gave two years ago appears prophetic.

Led by Allison’s 13 points and 12 assists, Sage Creek defeated Mount Miguel 68-52 to capture the CIF Division 3 basketball championship, the first title in the neophyte school’s existence.

The Carlsbad school made an improbable run through the Division 3 bracket as the 10th seed, defeating No. 7 Christian, No. 2 Granite Hills and No. 6 Montgomery to advance to the title game at Jenny Craig Pavilion, where Dowdy played part of his college basketball career for the University of San Diego.

The Bobcats (14-18) dominated the ninth-seed Matadors, which knocked off top-seeded Coronado and fourth-seeded Point Loma on their way to a surprise berth in the finals.

The team shot 59.5 percent from the field in the finals, the only team to shoot over 50 percent in the five championship games played on Saturday.

Sage Creek jumped out to a 9-2 lead and never looked back, amassing a 31-15 halftime advantage and leading by as many as 20 points in the third quarter.

Dowdy said the team played to its strengths and looked for scoring inside.

“If you look at the tape of us throughout the year, we are not a good outside shooting team,” said Dowdy, who played part of his collegiate career at USD. “We really stressed getting the ball inside and playing inside-out and I think the boys bought into it.”

Unheralded senior Bryce Buscher led the Bobcats with 16 points. Allison’s double-double was his second big performance in as many games, as he notched a triple double in the semifinal game with 20 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists.

Dowdy said that much of the team’s success is because of Allison’s growth over the year.

“I think he is a very underrated prospect, and I think that colleges need to definitely give him a look,” he said of his unsigned senior point guard.

Sage Creek’s season would end this week in the state playoffs, as the team lost of Twentynine Palms in the first round of the Division 4 playoffs.