What we learned: Tournament Season Recap & Awards
It was a busy and hectic end to the 2021 holiday tournament season, which saw teams withdraw from play and tournaments canceled altogether. Still, enough teams played and soldiered through the final days of the year to have a lot to chew on entering the new year.
Here are some of my thoughts on the tournament season that was. Who shined, who surprised and which teams are in a good position moving forward?
Co-Teams of Tournament Season
San Ysidro and Mission Hills
San Ysidro Head Coach Terry Tucker's group went 2-2 in The Holiday Classic, but those two wins were huge: an 88-79 win over St. Mary's (AZ) and a 67-62 win over then-No. 2 Torrey Pines. And the two losses were nothing to hang their heads over: The Cougars led deep into the fourth quarter against a very good Coronado (NV) team and competed against arguably NorCal's top squad, Campolindo.
After starting tournament season with back to back losses to Clovis North and Heritage Christian by a combined 11 points, the Grizzlies rattled off wins against Saugus, San Juan Hills, La Costa Canyon, Curtis (WA) and Camas (WA), the latter four wins happening in the American Division of The Holiday Classic to secure the title. And they did this without a key piece of their team's success, junior sharpshooter CJ Hofmeister, who injured his back in the first game of The Holiday Classic.
Co-players of Tournament Season
Sebastian Medina, San Ysidro and Justin White, Mission Hills
Medina spearheaded San Ysidro's signature win over St. Mary's (AZ) with a 38-point performance, the highest scoring effort in the tournament, earning him a spot on The Holiday Classic's All-Tournament Team. White averaged 20 points per game and was named MVP of the American Division of The Holiday Classic.
Surprise win of Tournament Season
La Costa Canyon's 61-56 OT win over Cathedral Catholic
While on paper this win wouldn't be a surprise, the fact that the Mavericks were able to outlast a Dons team that was at full strength while missing its two leading scorers due to COVID-19 protocols. In fact, you could argue that the Mavs were one possession away from being the team of the tournament season. Mission Hills hit a game-tying shot to send its game against LCC to overtime, where they would prevail 52-40 in the second round of the American Division bracket.
Surprise player of Tournament Season
Trevor Ladd, La Costa Canyon
The 6-1 sophomore guard/forward wasn't in the Mavs rotation until mid-December, but once he got the call from Head Coach Dave Cassaw, he hasn't looked back. Ladd has provided the Mavs with toughness, energy and timely buckets in the paint, despite giving up several inches in his individual matchups. His emergence allowed the Mavs to ride out the absence of leading scorers Christian Brown and Brayden Hendricks and score wins over Cathedral Catholic and Scripps Ranch to close out the tournament season.
Biggest win by a San Diego Team
San Ysidro defeats Arizona's No. 1 team, St. Mary's
We've mentioned it a couple of times in this report, but it can't be understated how important the Cougars 88-79 win over St. Mary's (AZ), a Top-3 team out of their state, was for the section. And for San Ysidro, it was the cap to a strong week that saw them vault into the Top 3 in the San Diego Union-Tribune media poll.
Teams on the Rise
Scripps Ranch, San Dieguito Academy, Otay Ranch
The Falcons have been on a tear since their loss to Madison to close out the Regional Rumble. After nearly knocking off Cathedral in a narrow 2OT loss, the Falcons found their way into The Holiday Classic bracket after the Mt Carmel Holiday Classic was cancelled. They didn't disappoint, splitting their four games in the American Division, netting wins over Spanish Springs and Oak Ridge, and taking close losses to bracket runner-up Camas and La Costa Canyon.
San Dieguito Academy turned heads in the Sweetwater Lion's Club Classic, taking Mission Bay to the wire in a 71-69 loss, and then proving the loss wasn't a fluke with a 61-57 win over another surprise team, Otay Ranch. The Mustangs might be 4-5, but narrow losses to a strong Ontario Colony squad and Mission Bay suggest they will be a contender in Division 3.
During last year's spring season, Otay Ranch won 1 game. This year, they are already up to 9 wins, including winning the Governor's Division of The Holiday Classic over Rancho Buena Vista, a team that beat them to start the week. What's been the difference? The hire of ex-Ramona Head Coach David Kulowitch has given an infusion of energy into the group, as well as the roster addition of 6-0 guard Elijah Newsome, who did not play last season.
All Tournament Season Team
Justin White, 6-6 F, Mission Hills - His dominant play led the Grizzlies to the American Division title at The Holiday Classic
Jurian Dixon, 6-4 G, St. Augustine - Strong play at both Tarkanian and The Holiday Classic despite the Saints being shorthanded at both
Sebastian Medina, 6-3 G, San Ysidro - Led the Cougars to a 2-2 finish in the National Division of The Holiday Classic
Angelo Gil, 6-1 G, Mission Bay - Led the Buccaneers in scoring and a 3rd place finish in the American Division of The Holiday Classic and a title appearance at the Lion's Club Classic.
Otto Landrum, 6-9 C, Torrey Pines - Notched the Falcons first triple double in recent program history against San Ysidro
Devon Arlington, 6-3 G, San Marcos - Led the Knights to a consolation championship in the Tarkanian Classic's Gold Division
Ty Hendler, 6-3 G, La Costa Canyon - Shouldered the scoring load in the absence of LCC's two leading scorers, led Mavs to a 3-1 record at The Holiday Classic
Martin Flores, 6-8 F, San Ysidro - Had several big scoring games in the Cougars' National Division games at The Holiday Classic.
Caden Flint, 6-5 F, Scripps Ranch - Team's leading scorer and rebounder during the 2-2 American Division run at The Holiday Classic.
Jayden White, 6-7 WF, Mission Hills - Named to The Holiday Classic's All-Tournament team after several big games during the 4-0 week
Jaden Lebel, 6-4 G, Cathedral Catholic - Unquestioned leader of the Dons led them in scoring en route to a 2-2 finish in The Holiday Classic's American Division
Jake Hall, 6-2 G, Carlsbad - Led the Lancers to a 3rd place finish in The Holiday Classic's Senators Division. Lone freshman named to the All-Tournament Team.
Elijah Newsome, 6-0 G, Otay Ranch - Named MVP of the Governor's Division at The Holiday Classic
Noah Marte, 6-0 G, San Diego - Led the Cavers to the Consolation Championship of the Senator's Division of The Holiday Classic
Brycen Mackenzie, 6-0 G, Santa Fe Christian - Sophomore a career-high 34 points for the Eagles, which went 2-2 in The Holiday Classic's Senators Division
Trevor Ladd, 6-1 G, La Costa Canyon - Surprise performer buoyed the Mavs to a 3-1 finish at The Holiday Classic
Vinny Signorelli, 6-1 G, Victory Christian - Scoring guard paired with Mekhi Sutton to lead the Crusaders to a 3rd place finish in the Governor's Division of The Holiday Classic.
Kenny Gonzalez, 6-0 G, Mater Dei Catholic - Several strong performances in the Lion's Club Classic before a 17-point performance against Carlsbad in The Holiday Classic Tip-Off Classic.
Justin Torres, 6-1 G, Orange Glen - Willed the Patriots to a 2-2 finish in the Orleans Select Division at the Tarkanian Classic
Owen Isachsen, 6-1 G, San Dieguito Academy - Shot lights out for the Mustangs in their games at the Lion's Club Classic