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The Torrey Pines Falcons were making their first appearance in the Coast News Classic, which was held for the third time. Photo by Aaron Burgin
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Torrey Pines wins Coast News Classic

REGION — The Torrey Pines Falcons were one of several new teams in this year’s Coast News Classic, which traditionally pits some of North County’s top programs against others from San Diego and southwest Riverside County.

As it turns out, the first time proved to be the charm for the Falcons, as they capped off an undefeated run through the two-week tournament with a 67-55 win in the championship game over the La Jolla Country Day Torreys.

Finn Sullivan, a 6-foot-4 senior point guard, was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player after scoring 27 points in the Falcons near wire-to-wire victory over a Country Day team that is one of the top 10 in San Diego.

But it was team’s defense — namely Sullivan’s — against one of the most potent offensive teams in San Diego that allowed them to claim the championship.

“I thought defensively we were able to disrupt their rhythm, because they are a very explosive offensive team, so I thought that was the primary thing,” said Torrey Pines head coach John Olive when asked what was the key to his team’s win. “Finn did a fabulous job playing against (Ryan) Langborg, who is a great player.”

Langborg, a junior, is one of the top recruits in San Diego and has been offered scholarships by several NCAA Division I basketball programs. Sullivan, who guarded him almost exclusively throughout the game, limited Langborg to 7 points the first three quarters.

Olive said that Sullivan’s experience as the team’s lone returning varsity starter came into play in his defensive effort.

“He really understands the entire defensive concept,” Olive said. “Many of our other guys are continuing to learn and gain experience and are starting to react instinctively rather than thinking about it, but Finn is at the point where he can be instinctive. Plus, we do a really good job of film breakdown, and we’ve played (Country Day) quite a few times, so we know their personnel and their system very well.”

Junior guard Bryce Pope, who scored 18 points, was named to the All-Tournament Team.

Olive said he was pleased with his team’s experience in the Coast News Classic.

“We wanted to try something different, we had played in the same tournaments for a number of years, but we are really happy with what we had to go through,” Olive said. “Having a couple of home games this time of the year is really nice, and having to play some true road games is nice this early in the season. Having to go up to Temecula Valley and playing teams like Country Day and Orange Glen was a very good test for us early on.”

Saturday’s final day of the tournament turned out to be a five-game affair due to the Lilac fire, which forced Carlsbad High School to cancel Thursday’s so-called crossover games and Friday’s third-place and championship games due to air quality concerns.

El Camino captured the third-place crown with a 72-67 comeback win over Temecula Valley in a game that the Wildcats trailed by 15 points in the second quarter.

Orange Glen, Mission Hills and Carlsbad won earlier games against Murrieta Mesa, Westview and Point Loma, respectively.

This is the third year that the Coast News has been the title sponsor of the tournament, which spans two weeks and is hosted by Carlsbad High School.

Temecula Valley won last year’s title and El Camino won the inaugural event in 2015.

All-Tournament Team

Finn Sullivan, G, Torrey Pines (MVP)

Bryce Pope, G,  Torrey Pines

Jalen Flanagan, G, El Camino

Damien Miller, G, Orange Glen

Shamar Wright, F, Murrieta Mesa

Ryan Langborg, G, La Jolla Country Day