Injuries threatened to derail La Jolla Country Day’s basketball season with most of the starting five missing time.
The Torreys finished 5-5 in the tough Coastal League, lost six of seven games late in the season, lost in the quarterfinals of the San Diego Section Division I playoffs and got an eight seed in Division III of the Southern California Regional.
Healthy now, LJCD caught fire in the regionals and Tuesday night beat Crescenta Valley 71-43 before a full house in the Falcons’ spacious gym to claim the regional title and a trip to Sacramento. The Torreys will play San Francisco University for the state crown at 4 p.m. Friday.
This is LJCD’s first trip on the boys side to the state final.
“We have a full team now,” said LJCD coach Ryan Meier. “We’re healthy now, and we’re on a roll.
“After what we’ve gone through this season, this feels so good. Adversity brings out toughness.
“This is what we could have been all season had we been healthy.”
The Torreys (22-13) led 22-7 at the end of the first quarter and stretched that to 36-15 at the half.
No. 6-seeded Crescenta Valley (29-6) missed all 13 of its 3-point attempts in the first half and was 4-of-20 for the game.
“We knew they liked to shoot, so we contested every shot,” said Princeton-bound Ryan Langborg. “We wanted to forced them into the middle, into Jayson (Taylor).
“He has had games with seven, eight, nine blocks, so we wanted to funnel their offense into him.”
The 6-foot-10 Taylor, who will play at Tufts next season, blocked a pair of shots, had 10 rebounds and scored 14 points.
But he altered more than a dozen shots, forcing the Falcons into bad passes.
“When you have an athletic 6-10 guy, why not take advantage of him,” Meier said. “We stressed defending the 3-pointer. That’s a huge part of their game.
“Crescenta Valley is a really steady team, and they’re extremely well coached.
“But I think our pressure overwhelmed them.”
Langborg finished with a game-high 20 points, scoring eight in the first quarter after hitting his first shot, a 3-pointer.
“We started well,” Langborg said. “It was nice to get a rhythm going.”
Point guard Raymond Lu, who went out in the third quarter after spraining the same right ankle he had been nursing all season, scored 14, returning to play in the fourth quarter.
James Hapgood added 12 and John Hapgood finished with eight.
“This feels so good,” said Lu, one of the senior trio of Langborg and Taylor. “We wanted to represent San Diego. We wanted to stay locked in and earn a trip to Sacramento.
“From the get-go, I think we wanted it more.
“This team is on fire. And for a point guard to play with someone like Ryan Langborg, it has been a thrill.”
firstname.lastname@example.org John Maffei