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Girls hoops win league title


Last updated 2/22/2007 at Noon

Fallbrook High School’s girls basketball team earned its first league championship since 1985.

The Warriors finished the regular season with a 9-1 record in Avocado League play and entered the CIF Division I playoffs with a 21-6 overall record. The Warriors earned the sixth seed in the Division I playoffs.

The league’s second-place team was El Camino, which finished 8-2 and lost only to Fallbrook in Avocado League competition. “Beat El Camino twice, which is two great wins for our girls,” said Fallbrook coach Len Whitacre.

Fallbrook’s only league defeat closed out the regular season February 16, when the Warriors suffered a 53-50 road loss to Carlsbad after leading 29-20 at halftime. “I can’t tell you why it happened, but we did not play very well,” Whitacre said.

One major explanation was Fallbrook’s focus on the playoffs. In part that meant resting starters. “It was a matter of us certainly trying to use our bench a little more than usual,” Whitacre said.

A more likely cause was the focus on future games rather than the present game. “They [Carlsbad] were playing real hard and they outplayed us,” Whitacre said. “We wanted to be 10-0, there’s no doubt about it, but apparently we didn’t play well enough to demonstrate that we really wanted to be.”

While the Warriors had an undefeated league season at stake, they had already clinched the league title. Carlsbad, who finished fourth in the Avocado League with a 5-5 conference record, was fighting for a playoff berth.

“You hate to lose, but you hope if you lose then you take away what you get from that,” Whitacre said. “If we step it up a little bit as a result then that will be better for us in CIF.”

That includes earning every win. “We’re not invincible. We have to prepare well; we have to execute well,” Whitacre said.

Fallbrook had defeated Carlsbad in an earlier league match. The Warriors earned a first-round playoff berth against Mira Mesa, who had been the opponent during a 63-39 Fallbrook victory in the Bonita Vista Optimists Tournament in December. Whitacre felt that the loss to Carlsbad reduced the risk of overconfidence against Mira Mesa. “I think my players will understand that they’re going to have to play,” he said.

The win over Mira Mesa gave Fallbrook a 12-game winning streak, which was snapped in the finals of the Bonita Vista Optimists Tournament against San Diego High School. The loss to Carlsbad ended a nine-game winning streak. “Kind of unusual to have two streaks like that in a season,” Whitacre said.

“We have a zero game winning streak,” Whitacre said after the loss to Carlsbad, “and we’re hoping to get to five or six.”

The CIF San Diego Section championship consists of four rounds, so five or six playoff wins constitutes initial success in the state tournament as well as a CIF championship. “We’d like to play in a big gym for a championship. That would be nice. My girls will like that,” Whitacre said.


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