A sprinkling of what had been an overflow crowd remained at midcourt of the Torrey Pines’ High School Gym Thursday night.
Standing face to face were Courtie Miller, Torrey Pines’ forward, and his future coach, Jim Brandenburg. A few feet away was the spot from which DiJon Bernard, Compton Dominguez’s stylish guard, so efficiently iced the three-pointers that ended plans the top-seeded Torrey Pines boys’ basketball team had to go to the Los Angeles Sports Arena this weekend for the Southern California Regional Division II championship game.
The final score was 78-70, fourth-seeded Dominguez (26-4) advancing to the final against Glendora.
Brandenburg shook Miller’s hand and exchanged some quiet words with him. Miller, a 6-foot-8 senior forward, was the game’s leading scorer with 31 points. But Dominguez, boosted by Bernard’s nifty jump shot and solid team play, blended for the victory.
What did Brandenburg have to say?
“He just said he was real proud of me,” Miller said.
Talk around the Torrey Pines’ camp was that this was a bonus game anyway. With the San Diego Section title neatly tucked away, all of this was gravy. But Dominguez took its potatoes plain. City ball, Torrey Pines Coach John Farrell called it.
“Woooo,” elated Dominguez Coach Russell Otis yelled amid the celebration of his players. “This is the best basketball team I’ve ever seen.”
Hard to argue. It crashed the boards. Smashed the dunks. Cashed the jumpers. And trashed the favorites.
Bernard led his team with 27 points. He had five of Dominguez’s first seven points, helping the Dons to an early 9-2 lead.
Miller got hot halfway through the first quarter, and when Falcon guard Darren Cox dropped in a three-pointer, Torrey Pines (32-2) pulled within one, 14-13.
But as it did all evening, Dominguez pulled out of trouble. A few examples:
--Second quarter. Torrey pulls within four points. Bernard cans two three-pointers, Xavier Edison drives for a layup, and Corey Cothrine adds a three-pointer. Dominguez 29, Torrey Pines 16.
--Third quarter. Cox hits a jump shot. Torrey Pines is down by two. The crowd is up on its feet. Edison dunk. Derrick Thomas layup. And so on. Dominguez 55, Torrey Pines 42.
--Fourth quarter. Less than 4 minutes remain. Cox pops two free throws to pull Torrey Pines within six. Jeffrey Rogers answers with a layup, Edison Dunks. See you.
So chalk it up to gravy. But Miller says it’s disappointing nonetheless.
“It is gravy,” he said, “but any athlete doesn’t want to go out there and lose. They’re really tough. (Bernard) broke our backs, without any doubt.”
Also contributing to Torrey Pines’ woes was poor outside shooting. Cox finished with 15 points, but the other guards, Kyle Armstrong and Dan Harriff, were held to just two points each.
“If they had been hitting the outside shots, we would have had to change our strategy,” Otis said. “But fortunately they weren’t.”
And Bernard kept delivering on the other end.
“That’s something I had to do,” Bernard said. “It gets the team going.”
Sinks the opponent, too.
“When (Bernard) hit those shots, we had to come out of our defense,” Farrell said. “And they went to the hole really well. City kids will do that.”