In the final of the Charlie Wilkins
A pair of Breakers proved that point against Orange Lutheran in a 42-41 win at Westminster High.
Charlie Rounaghi had been a mess at the free-throw line all night, converting on just three of his eight attempts from the charity stripe. He banked in one free throw in the first half, and he air-balled his only attempt of the fourth quarter.
Bearing that in mind, the senior guard hoisted up a three-pointer with just under three minutes to go. It tied the game at 39-39 after the Breakers (10-2) had trailed 36-29 with seven minutes remaining.
"I always keep my confidence," Rounaghi said. "Coach has been telling me to catch it on the hop and shoot it, so I just didn't even think about it. I caught it on a hop and took my shot."
Struggles from the free-throw line would keep some coaches from leaving a player out on the floor late in a close game, but Breakers coach Bret Fleming believed in Rounaghi.
"He's our guy," Fleming said. "If we need someone to come through in the clutch, he's the one that we want to go to. I got no problem with him at the free-throw line at the end. We kid about it. He's a pretty good free-throw shooter, but he's got a little case of the yips right now."
Adam Armstrong had taken just one first-quarter shot in the game, but he stepped to the free-throw line in the game's final minute. He hit the front end of a one-and-one opportunity, putting the Breakers on top 42-41.
The Lancers (3-6) got two shots at the basket. Cooper Jervis had the last. It bounced off the front iron, and the Breakers broke into a frenzied celebration at midcourt.
"It felt great," senior forward Blake Burzell said of defeating the Lancers after suffering a 14-point loss to them in pool play. "We knew that we had them. We just had to play hard, play our game. They were trying to speed us up, and we just slowed the game down and hit some key shots. It meant a lot to win this game."
Burzell had 22 points and 13 rebounds to lead the Breakers. Grady Morgan added nine points.
The first half saw three ties and five lead changes. Laguna Beach led for a five-minute stretch in the second quarter, but the Lancers' defense prevented the Breakers from opening a big lead.
Cade Potter (17 points, seven rebounds) had two blocks to deny Laguna Beach layups, keeping the greatest margin between the teams at three points before the break.
It was a one-possession game all the way to the 6:19 mark of the third quarter, when Trey Anderson hit a pair of free throws to give Orange Lutheran a 24-19 lead following a technical foul against Fleming.
"We've got a lot of seniors," Fleming said. "Our kids just shook it off and kept playing.
"I don't get many technicals, and that one, I wasn't saying too much."
Isaiah Pope had eight points and nine rebounds for the Lancers. Tai Warner also had eight points with two three-pointers.
Laguna Beach 42, Orange Lutheran 41
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Orange Lutheran 11 – 9 – 14 – 7 — 41
Laguna Beach 10 – 9 – 10 – 13 — 42
OL – Potter 17, Pope 8, Warner 8, Anderson 5, Griffin 2, Jervis 1.
3-pt. goals – Potter 2, Warner 2.
Fouled out – None.
Technicals – None.
LB – Burzell 22, Morgan 9, C. Rounaghi 8, Naess 2, Armstrong 1.
3-pt. goals – Morgan 1, C. Rounaghi 1, Burzell 1.
Fouled out – None.
Technicals – Fleming.