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HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL : Defense Gets Poway Title Share

Defense, it turns out, wins co-championships.

Poway High School needed a big second-half performance to slow Fallbrook’s Chris Miller, who was no pace to score 30 points. The Titans got the effort they needed, scoring a 73-60 victory Friday night over the visiting Warriors.

While the second-ranked Titans (16-6, 10-4) were breaking the first-place tie they shared with Fallbrook (16-10, 9-5) atop the Palomar League, they were hoping San Dieguito would upset fifth-ranked Torrey Pines, which also shared the league lead.

No such luck. The Falcons beat San Dieguito, 72-66.

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The league championship is the first for Poway since 1986, when now-NBA player Jud Buechler was leading the Titans to their second league title and third consecutive section championship. Although Poway lacks a dominant force like Buechler, the Titans got outstanding balance to beat the Warriors and Miller, who was averaging 22 points per game.

The Titans’ defense helped them win their ninth home game this season without a loss.

Frank Garrett scored 19 points and grabbed 10 rebounds and battled Miller evenly. He limited Miller to just four points in the third period, his only points of the second half. Miller finished with 19 points.

Garrett’s third-quarter performance helped Poway overcome a 36-35 halftime deficit.

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“I told them at halftime we had to pick it up a notch and stay out of foul trouble,” said first-year Poway Coach Doug Wealch.

Fallbrook was 12 of 14 from the foul line in the first half, only five of six in the second half. The Warriors didn’t take a free throw in the fourth quarter.

Fallbrook had trouble shooting from everywhere on the court in the second half. The Warriors shot only 31% (eight of 26) after making 63% in the first (12 of 19).

“I couldn’t buy a shot,” said Miller, who was one-for-four in the second half and repeatedly altered his shot because of the Titan defense. “Everything was going well and then we went cold.”

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Kyle Milling, a 6-foot-7 junior, scored 20 points and became a dominant presence when Fallbrook’s Bob Nolan picked up his third and fourth fouls in the third quarter. Nolan, who was eight of nine from the field and scored 18 points, fouled out with 6:16 left in the fourth.

"(Nolan) picked up his third foul then started playing tentatively,” Fallbrook Coach Russ Keith said. “Then Milling took over. He was unstoppable. We tried some different things and still couldn’t stop him.”

Milling grabbed most of his 10 rebounds in the second half.

Poway led by just three, 56-53, when Nolan fouled out of the game. The Titans then scored the next nine points and 15 of the next 17.

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"(Poway) did a good job,” Keith said. “We have a two-pronged attack (in Miller and Nolan) and it went down to one prong. They took everything away that we wanted to do.

“We were hoping tonight that we could say we’re with the Poways and Torrey Pines and the Mt. Carmels, but we came up a little short.”


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