La Costa Canyon's Fritz Eibel shoots in a crowd.
BOYS BASKETBALL: Playoff preview
GIRLS BASKETBALL: Playoff preview
Welcome to La Costa Canyon High boys basketball, elder statesman Fritz Eibel presiding.
The only senior in the Mavericks' nine-man rotation, Eibel is the lone holdover from the Matt Shrigley (San Diego State), Drew Kitchens (Chico State), David Travers (Georgia Southern), Jeff Van Dyke (Pepperdine) championship years of 2010-11 and 2011-12.
Eibel is the only player in school history to play in four straight San Diego Section championship games.
He was a babe-in-the-woods freshman when the Mavericks went 29-5 and won the Division I title in 2011.
Sophomore year, the Mavericks were 34-3, won the San Diego Section Division II title, the Southern California Regional before losing in the state title game.
Last year, Eibel was a major contributor on a team that lost to Hoover in the Division II title game.
Saturday, he'll again lead a team loaded with juniors in the 8 p.m. Open Division title showdown with top-seeded and top-ranked St. Augustine at USD's Jenny Craig Pavilion.
"It was up to me to educate these guys," said the 6-foot-5 Eibel, who averages 7.2 points and 5.3 rebounds a game.
Wednesday in the semifinals, when Coach Dave Cassaw said rebounding would be the key to victory, Eibel had a career-high 15 rebounds in a 62-61 overtime win over El Camino.
"I'm the only guy left from the Shrigley-Kitchens days," Eibel said. "I've learned that what the coaches preach ... put in the work, trust your training, hit the standards they set ... wins championships.
"I told the juniors if they wanted to carry on the LCC tradition, they had better listen to me."
Over the last 10 years, the Mavericks are 259-58, a winning percentage of 81.7, with three San Diego Section titles.
LCC's junior starters are Tommy McCarthy, who averages 17.0 points a game and has 67 3-pointers, Brady Twombly (17.0, 6.5 rebounds), Travis Fuller (16.3, 8.8 rebounds) and Patrick Fisher (9.4).
Evan Kaplan is the sixth man while Matt Hartman and Tony Gallo are major contributors.
"We knew the championship history," Fuller said. "But Fritz set the tone with a championship mentality.
"He won't let us forget what the goal is.
"He's an extension of Coach Cassaw. We never focus on what we just did. We never forget the goal ... winning a championship."
Fuller, Twombly, Fisher and McCarthy have played together or against each other since fifth grade.
McCarthy spent his freshman year at Torrey Pines before transferring to LCC.
McCarthy and Fisher remember watching Chase Budinger (Arizona, NBA) score 50 points in a 2006 Division I title-game win over Eastlake in Jenny Craig Pavilion.
"Coach talks about how special those championship teams were," Fisher said. "But he tells us to make our own history.
"We have one goal ... a CIF championship, and we're 100 percent behind each other."
Cassaw knows he has a special team. He knows with so many players coming back, next year could be special, too.
Here is his evaluation of his top juniors:
Travis Fuller: He's our most-improved player. He has made enormous strides. At 6-foot-6, he has a special inside-outside game. And he's just 16. He'll get taller, and he'll fill out."
Brady Twombly: He has been redhot since the middle of league, averaging close to 30 points. He's a match-up nightmare because he's wide enough and strong enough to post you up, but he's quick enough to come off screens and hit a three. He's sneaky athletic, and he's one of our better defenders."
Tommy McCarthy: Tommy is so savvy. He makes defenses pay for every mistake. And he's such a good finisher. He's a clutch, clutch player."
Patrick Fisher: He's the Piano Man. No one ever pays attention to the piano man. He just plays his music. Pat gets defensive stops. He makes the pass that leads to the pass that leads to the basket. He has the ability to score, but he sacrifices to set up his teammates. He doesn't have great numbers, but he has made a massive impact."
Evan Kaplan: He's a glue guy. He's a big-time rebounder and a timely scorer. He's like a Swiss Army Knife because he does so many things. He's what every team needs as a sixth man."