The Falcons (25-2) handily defeated Carlsbad High School (10-15) 73-54 at TPHS on Feb. 9.
The Falcons got off to a slow start as the Lancers got right to the rim on their first possession. This sparked a 3-point barrage from both sides, as sharpshooter Bryce Pope (11) nailed a triple. Carlsbad came right down the floor, found an open shooter off a pick, and nailed another three. Brandon Angel (10) quickly responded with a 3-pointer of his own, giving the Falcons an early 10-5 advantage.
The Falcons began to struggle on defense, unable to stop Lancer fast breaks. Although Finn Sullivan (12) took a tough charging foul that ignited the crowd and his teammates, the Lancers ended the first quarter on an 8-0 run.
Heading into the second quarter trailing 15-16, Pope took control on offense, knocking down a three and converting on a pull up mid-range shot. However, the Lancers continued to shoot efficiently, keeping themselves in the game.
As the second quarter rolled on, the Falcons were able to make a run thanks to Angel and Michael Pope (11). Michael Pope found an open lane to the hoop, giving the Falcons an easy layup, while Angel continued to knock down threes. Then, after a Falcon miss from the three-point line, Sullivan attempted a put back dunk, but narrowly missed. Bryce Pope continued to help out his team as he boxed out the Lancers for a rebound and converted an and-one opportunity. The Falcons went into halftime up 33-29 over Carlsbad.
The Falcons picked up right where they left off on the offense once the second half started. A pair of Bryce Pope threes and a driving layup by Sullivan gave the Falcons a 39-31 edge, their biggest lead of the night.
The Lancers seemed unable to stop the Falcons from getting to the line, as Michael Pope and Sullivan were able to get fouled on back-to-back possessions.
Afterward, The Falcon offense really kicked into gear, as both Bryce Pope and Ryan Brown (12) found driving lanes straight to the rim for easy layins. Ending the third quarter on an 18-8 run, the Falcons were feeling relatively comfortable heading into the fourth.
Leading the Lancers 51-37, Angel continued his hot shooting night with yet another 3-pointer and the Falcon defense began to tighten up, allowing only 10 points for the rest of the quarter. The staunch defense was devastating for the Lancers, as the Falcons continued production on the offensive end. Bryce Pope got another mid-range jumper to fall, while Angel played solid defense and came up with a steal, igniting a Falcon fast break and an easy Bryce Pope layup.
The onslaught on offense didn’t stop, as Angel set as Michael Pope hit Sullivan on a huge alley-oop jam. The student section went wild, shifting the momentum in the Falcons’ favor.
“Yeah, I think it was able to shift momentum. I think it was one of the plays that got us back into the zone after the Senior Night celebration before the game,” Sullivan said.
With just 1:38 left to play and a healthy 18-point lead, Coach John Olive subbed in all seniors who hadn’t been in the game.
One of the five seniors was Team Manager Ben Marks (12). Clearly a student section favorite, the team got the ball in his hands as much as possible. Off a Carlsbad miss, Marks secured the ball and brought it up the floor as the point guard. He sized up his defender, and released a series of shifty crossovers and behind the back dribbles, before pulling up for a deep, contested three. The ball swished through the net, prompting a wild celebration from the student section. “MVP,” chants broke out when Marks took his place at the free throw line after getting fouled.
As time expired, the Falcons took the win on a final score of 73-54. The victory marked the 51st win in succession for the Falcons in league play, spanning across three different seasons.
“We are able to be so consistent in our league because Coach Olive knows how to teach so well and develop new offenses for the new types of teams he is given each year,” Sullivan said.
The Falcons played Sage Creek High School Wednesday after the Falconer went to press and will hit the road to take on La Costa Canyon High School tomorrow.