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St. Augustine becomes first San Diego area team to compete in "National Championship" in eight years

01/03/2013, 9:11am PST
By Craig Malveaux

St. Augustine raises eyebrows with run through the Torrey Pines Holiday Tournament.

Pop quiz.

Question #1: In the twenty-three year history of the Under Armour Torrey Pines Holiday Classic, forty-six teams have suited up and battled for the National Division championship. How many of those teams hail from from San Diego?

(Hint: you only need two hands for this.)

The magic number is none other than six. Only six San Diego area teams advanced to the “National Championship” match in the Holiday Classic — one of them did it twice.

Question #2: Can you name them?

(Hint: one of those teams hosts the tournament.)

The rest include El Camino, Carlsbad, Lincoln, Steele Canyon and most recently, St. Augustine. The purple Saints (8-2) fought the Sheldon Huskies (7-3) from Sacramento, but couldn’t contain San Diego St. commits Dakarai Allen and D’Erryl Williams, falling 64-47.

Allen stuffed the stat box, dropping 21 points, dishing out seven dimes, grabbing seven boards and blocking a shot while playing with a cut above his right eye. The senior guard/forward was named National Division MVP.

“This tournament could have gone a couple different ways for us,” said Saints coach Mike Haupt. “But our guys dug deep and kept fighting. We had a great week. I’m porud of them.”

You have the who and the what, the where and the when. Now, it’s time to answer the why — as in why this is significant — which leads to the final question.

Question #3: St. Augustine reached the championship match Saturday night. Before them, when was the last time a San Diego area team played for a holiday tournament crown?

(Hint: it wasn’t 2011 or 2010.)

This one is difficult. When asked, Haupt and St. Augustine senior guard Brynton Lemar both drew blank, stumped by the question.

The answer is 2004. Seven years have passed since a San Diego team has represented the section in the final game.

“That just shows what this tournament is all about,” Haupt said. “There are a lot of great teams from all over the country competing to be the last team standing. I’m proud of our guys.”

Steele Canyon was the last team to do it. The Cougars, sporting the motto, “You can’t bend Steele,” defeated El Toro 74-64 to claim the title for the first time since El Camino did it two years prior.

“I wasn’t aware of how long it’s been. It’s cool because it means San Diego basketball is back,” said Lemar, who finished with 19 points against Sheldon and earned himself a spot on the All-Tournament team alongside Allen and Williams.

“We really fought hard on the court. We might not have been the most well known team in the tournament around California, but I think we showed we are capable of playing with anybody.”

Can’t argue with that.

They topped No. 4 county ranked Army-Navy Warriors 60-49 in the quarterfinals of the tournament and in regular season games, defeated Mission Hills — the 2012 American Division Champions — and JW North (14-2).

Their placement raised some eyebrows around the section and because of it, garners more attention. Haupt welcomes it.

“Now, teams know we’re good. They know we can play at a high level,” Haupt said. “So they’re going to give us their best shot every time they play us. I like it. I like being in that position.”

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