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Watch: Torrey Pines guard Matin Madadkar reflects on promising loss, program's culture and late, great Nick Herrmann

Self-made All-Tournament standout and Falcons' leading scorer was inspired by program's poster player tragically lost to cancer 18 months ago at age of 20

SAN DIEGO — Golden trophy moments aren't always found after emotional championship victories or hardware hoisting ceremonies. 

In the middle of painstaking, never-ending four-day, 76-team tournaments, sometimes gems are found in plain sight in the middle, ending and following a relatively innocuous, seemingly meaningless, middle-of-the-afternoon consolation finale.

The gemstone in this case was one Matin Madadkar, a rugged 6-foot-3, hard-charging, relentless guard for host Torrey Pines, playing for a consolation title against heavily favored Santa Margarita, a jewel of a team blessed with long athletic wings, posts and guards — future college players at virtually every spot on the court. 

The Eagles, a Trinity League power from just North of San Diego, were fully engaged, well-coached and taking nothing for granted in this surprisingly competitive and hard-played, end-to-end battle of wills. 

The Falcons, hosting the storied event for the 33rd year that featured such current NBA stars as Russell Westbrook, Kyrie Irving Jrue Holiday, Paolo Banchero and DeMar DeRozan to name a few, had surpassed Santa Margarita's intensity and somehow taken a 29-23 halftime lead. 

In the end, though, the Eagles had too many high fliers and athletes and pulled out a 56-50 victory behind 20 points from 6-6 Dartmouth-signee Cam McNamee. Dallas Washington and Brayden Kymen, a pair of 6-8 top junior recruits, combined for 17 points, 18 rebounds, a few blocks and altered a whole bunch of others.  

"They were a great team," McNamee said of Torrey Pines. "They play with a lot of pride, especially playing in their home gym. I got nothing but respect for those guys, they played super hard and gave us a good fight." 

Self made player

Madadkar, an All-Tourney selection, led the Falcons (12-4) in scoring with 13, but he had had plenty of help from other scrappers like 6-2 Dylan Kail (11 points), along with 6-5 forward Zach Jackson and 6-3 sophomore Tevaris Green, who each had nine. 

As good and competitive as the game was, the true treat was afterward, having three minutes with Madadkar, described by longtime coach John Olive, a former NBA player and college coach, as a "self made kid.

"He was never gifted as a young player," Olive said. "Nobody saw him as a top talent. He just worked really, really hard on his skills — his ball handling and shooting, the way he can use the glass and make shots from all different angles. He's really good at the (defensive) end also. Just a tremendous self-made player." 

'Tightening the screws'

In the three minutes with the lad, all his enthusiasm and love for the program and the game came through. He used the term "man" seven times to hammer a point and got out answers before the questions were even finished. Not nearly in a rude way, but utterly enthusiastic, wanting to share his love and passion for the program. He talked about "tightening the screws," and "following the principles of the coaches." 

"Torrey Pines is the best thing ever, man," he said. "Everything we do. Coming into the gym early, watching film. Everything."

He spoke of the program's pride and growing up watching and being inspired by the late Nick Herrmann, an All-CIF guard who overcame a bought of cancer as a sophomore to win a San Diego Section title as a senior. The cancer returned a year after graduation and took his life in August of 2022, three months shy of his 21st birthday. 

"I just wanted to be on the court, man, be in that environment," Madadkar said. 

When told of Madadkar's comments, Olive, one of the most respected high school coaches in the state who entered the season with 602 wins according to Cal-Hi Sports, smiled warmly.  

"It's all about building a culture," he said.   

We saw it blooming everywhere at every hour, most noticeably well after the final games every night at the Torrey Pines High School gym. 

While finishing up stories and lists on a laptop, it was impossible to miss assistant coaches and tournament chairs Griffin Jimenez and Jake Gilliam preparing for the next day's 16-hour event at five different schools.  

'Being a kid again'

While they and SBLive's Bodie De Silva, a former four-year team manager at the school, prepped schedule sheets, kids seemingly of every age — youth, freshmen, junior varsity kids and graduates — played hunch well past midnight. It's something Herrmann was known to do until they he was locked out. 

"He always found a way back in," De Silva said. 

While checking on scores, organizing sheets, putting out fires (figuratively), Jimenez and Gilliam were constantly lured back to the court to either direct, evaluate, coach or even play until the wee hours. At different times, up-and-coming players did individual work with their fathers, again, well past 11 p.m. 

Keep in mind, this is San Diego, not Indiana or New York City or Navajo Nation — regions where basketball is considered king, while offering relief to snow, crime, boredom or even poverty. 

Torrey Pines is in the middle of Surf City, surrounded by beaches, a world famous Zoo, affluence and year-round Mediterranean weather. It's been called "America's Finest City." 

Perhaps the passion and attention to detail into the wee hours stems from the city's motto — Semper Vigilans — which is Latin for 'ever vigilant.' 

We're guessing it has something more to do with these coaches at the top, treating kids with care and respect, while having fun doing it. 

"Being out on the court is like being a kid again," Madadkar said. "Making shots and everyone cheering for you." 

Much work and sacrifice goes into the process. 

For all these future, current and former Falcons, all that seemed to matter was wearing the cardinal and gold, soaking in the program's traditions, sharing a passion for the sport and building lifelong friendships. 

"Torrey Pines is something special, man," Madadkar said. 

'Man" to that.