REGION — The Temecula Valley Golden Bears don’t have a player over 6-foot-5 and start four players shorter than 6-foot-1.
But, man are they fast.
La Costa Canyon learned the lesson the hard way, as the Golden Bears amassed a 22-point lead en route to a 73-58 win over the Mavericks in the championship game of the 2nd Annual Coast News Tip-Off Classic.
Bryce Denham, the Golden Bears lone 6-foot-5 player, received the tournament’s Most Valuable Player award. He paced the team with a game-high 22 points and 10 rebounds in the final game.
Denham, who serves as the team’s de facto center, used his superior foot speed to outmaneuver La Costa Canyon’s slower interior players.
When Denham wasn’t attacking, Temecula Valley used a potent guard-laden attack led by senior guard Shaun Mitchell, a transfer from Moreno Valley Rancho Verde, to frustrate the Mavericks on offense and defense.
Mitchell, who was named to the All-Tournament team, scored 14 points.
The Golden Bears also received strong efforts from sophomore guard Josh O’Campo, who scored 14 points, including hitting 4 threes, off the bench.
The Mavericks, who upset tournament favorite Santa Fe Christian in the semifinals on Wednesday, could never get into an offensive rhythm, as the Bears forced them into a number of turnovers with their full-court pressure defense.
As a result, they could never capitalize on their significant size advantage.
A Graham Cook basket halfway through the first quarter cut the Golden Bears lead to 8-5, but Temecula Valley used a 10-6 spurt to open up a seven-point lead after the first quarter.
From there, the Bears built a 35-20 lead at halftime, as Denham and Mitchell started to take control of the game, and then opened the third quarter on a 10-5 run to open up a 45-25 advantage.
La Costa Canyon was able to cut the lead to 12 at 62-50 halfway through the final quarter, as Jaquan Carroll, a senior guard, provided a spark for the Mavs off the bench.
But Temecula Valley returned from a timeout and senior guard DeWayne Holmes scored a layup off of a broken play to thwart the comeback attempt.
Senior guards Drew Mead and Logan Wazny scored 10 points apiece to lead the Mavs. Sophomore guard Graham Cook, who scored 8 points, was named to the All-Tournament team.
In the earlier third place game, Santa Fe Christian shook off a disappointing semifinal performance and dominated Mission Hills in a 67-44 victory. Owen Aschieris scored a game-high 18 points on his way to an All-Tournament team selection.
The Coast News Classic All-Tournament Team:
Most Valuable Player
Bryce Denham, Sr. F, Temecula Valley
Owen Aschieris, Sr. PG, Santa Fe Christian
Shaun Mitchell, Sr. G, Temecula Valley
Graham Cook, So. G, La Costa Canyon
Chris Olave, Jr. G, Mission Hills
Jalen Flanagan, Jr. G, El Camino