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March 1, 2012

Hornets battle La Costa Canyon for SDS Division II title

Who: No. 2 Lincoln Hornets vs. No. 1 La Costa Canyon Mavericks
Where: Jenny Craig Pavilion (University of San Diego)
When: Friday, March 2, 8:05 p.m.

Why to Watch

The two best high school basketball teams in San Diego County just happen to play in the same division, as both Lincoln and La Costa Canyon headline the section's Division II bracket. The Mavericks are coming off one of the best seasons in San Diego history, with 30 wins against just two losses that came against CIF finalists Taft and La Verne Lutheran. LCC has dominated this year thanks in large part to having the best overall player in the region in 6-foot-6 wing Matt Shrigley. The San Diego State-signee is averaging over 20 points per game this season, and is flat-out dominant at times. He'll go up against the best brother combination in Southern California, with the Hornet throwing 6-foot-4 junior phenoms Tyrell Robinson and Tyree Robinson his way. Both Robinsons are excellent athletes and complete players, and should give Shrigley everything he can handle.

On a side note, it will be interesting to see how both teams come out after being relatively untested in the playoffs. LCC hasn't had a game decided by fewer than 16 points, while Lincoln's closest call came against third-seeded Hoover in the semifinals, a game the Hornets took control of in the second half and won 69-62. Will the teams come out flat to start, or will the level of intensity be raised in a game that will settle bragging rights for San Diego? We'll bet on the latter, as the SDS Division II title game should be a very interesting matchup.

Scouting Lincoln

The Hornets always have a competitive, athletic team under head coach Jason Bryant, and this year's team has come together at exactly the right time. Lincoln hit some bumps in the road early playing a difficult preseason schedule, losing five of its first eight games, punctuated by a three-game losing sreak in late December. The Hornets righted the ship, however, and lost just a single game to a San Diego Section opponent the rest of the way.

Lincoln is led by twins Tyrell and Tyree Robinson, a pair of 6-foot-4 athletes that can do just about everything on the floor. Tyree is the better offensive player of the brothers, and shows a pretty jumper and good overall athleticism. Tyrell, on the other hand, is the team's primary ball-handler and defensive stopper. While he's struggled at times running the offense (he's averaging roughly the same number of assists per game as turnovers), Tyrell Robinson is an excellent defender who has shown the ability to guard just about anyone on the floor. That'll be important in this game, because La Costa Canyon has arguably the most prolific offensive player in San Diego in Matt Shrigley.

The rest of the Hornets' team is rounded out by a few quality role players. Junior center Jeremiah Turner can be a handful down low when turns his 6-foot-7, 230-pound body loose, while 6-foot-3 wing Steve Martin is a steady overall player and the consummate "glue guy" for this year's Lincoln team.

Scouting La Costa Canyon

The Mavericks run an up-tempo offense that's centered around Shrigley's deft scoring ability. The 6-foot-6 wing can do it all: he's a good perimeter shooter, a solid ball handler and a decent distributor, with an underrated ability to finish around the basket. While Shrigley draws most of the defense's attention, senior point guard David Travers has quietly become one of the better floor generals in San Diego. The 6-foot senior is averaging 13.8 points and 6.1 assists per game, flashing the ability to get into the painted area and find the open man.

The one weakness in LCC's game comes at the defensive end of the floor. The Mavericks are a below average rebounding team and can be beat up down low for second-chance points. Football star Erik Magnuson provides a huge body down low, but he's not nearly as instinctive on the hardwood as he is on the gridiron, and can be caught out of position at times.

Matchup to Watch

Hornets' guard Tyrell Robinson vs. Mavericks' guard/forward Matt Shrigley

Robinson has everything you can ask for in a defender, with long arms, excellent athleticism, good instincts and the ability to avoid foul trouble. Robinson committed 34 personal fouls in his first 17 games this season, displaying good recognition of when to take chances and pressure offensive players and when to lay off and use his length to his advantage. While he'll be giving up a few inches to the 6-foot-6 Shrigley, Robinson's superior athleticism and lanky frame should more than make up for the height mismatch.

Shrigley is one of the more polished offensive players you'll find at the high school level. He's a good (but not outright dominant) all-around player, showing strong ball-handling skills, a decent outside shot and underrated athleticism to finish around the basket. It's also worth noting that Shrigley has made a habit of stepping up for LCC in big moments over his high school career. However, two of his worst performances this year came against top-flight competition. Shrigley shot under 40 percent in losses to both La Verne Lutheran and Taft, two teams that have the type of athleticism that Robinson has. If Shrigley struggles offensively with Robinson all over him, it'll put a tremendous strain on the Mavericks' role players to carry the offense.

Prediction

Both teams present excellent cases on why they should win this game, but we expect Lincoln to continue its stretch of torrid postseason play and narrowly come out with another CIF championship.

Lincoln 55, La Costa Canyon 53

Send feedback, recruiting updates and story suggestions to kevin@sectionsports.net.


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