Torrey girls erase bad memory of last year’s preseason tourney

Granite Hills' Khaley Kaesser (12) grabs the rebound but is hounded by Torrey Pines Laura Rucks (left) and Roma Panchal.
Granite Hills’ Khaley Kaesser grabs the rebound but is hounded by Torrey Pines’ Laura Rucks (left) and Roma Panchal in their matchup in the SoCal Holiday Classic on Thursday.
(Meg McLaughlin/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

The Torrey Pines girls basketball team reaches the FIBA East Division final of the SoCal Holiday Classic with a tight defensive effort against host Granite Hills


A year ago, Lily Oliva and her girls basketball teammates at Torrey Pines High wanted to just forget the SoCal Holiday Classic when it ended.

The Falcons did not even see the final day.

“It did not go the way we wanted it to,’’ Oliva said, grimly.

So as the 2022 tournament approached, the Falcons looked to wipe out the memory of last year’s disappointment.

They have done just that.

With a 41-29 victory Thursday afternoon over Granite Hills, the Falcons, now 10-6, earned a berth in the FIBA East Division championship game today at 1:30 p.m. at El Capitan High.

“For our team, this means a lot after last year,’’ said Oliva, who led the Falcons with 13 points. “As good as the boys basketball program is at our school, it’s great for the girls to make a comeback.

“But I was really nervous coming into this tournament.’’

Torrey Pines has won all three tournament games this time.

“This game was all about redemption,’’ Torrey Pines coach Morgan Avila-Overman said. ‘We have every player back with more maturity, more experience and every one of them remembers last year’s tournament.’’

One of six sophomores on this year’s team, Oliva sparked the first quarter rally with six points for a 17-2 lead by the end of the quarter.

Torrey Pines held its momentum, taking a 29-11 lead at halftime before slowing down a bit.

“We seem to struggle in the second half,’’ Oliva said. “We’re trying to deal with that. But we have to come back from those messy quarters.’’

Besides Oliva’s offense, junior Zoe Lau scored eight points, including a pair of 3-pointers.

Laura Rucks, the lone senior on the Falcons roster, grabbed 13 rebounds for Torrey Pines.

“Once we score a point or two,’’ Oliva said, “we start playing off each other.

“Our team chemistry is much better this year because we’re all a year older. We trust each other.’’

Torrey Pines helped its own cause by forcing the Eagles into 21 turnovers as well as a 9-for-42 shooting effort from the floor.

Granite Hills (9-5) rallied a bit in the second half, outscoring the Falcons 18-12.

With a win, Granite Hills, which defeated Marshall but lost to Claremont in the tournament, all of those games at home, could have made a bid for that berth in the finals.

Instead, it went to the Falcons.

Delaney Fry was the Eagles’ leader with 11 points and 17 rebounds.

But the next scorer was Jazmine Yakob with just six points.

That was hardly good enough to keep the Falcons from reaching this year’s championship game.