COSTA MESA — Thanks to eight three-pointers, including three in a critical 17-0 third-quarter run, the Laguna Beach High boys' basketball team defeated Costa Mesa, 60-41, in a key Orange Coast League showdown Friday night.
Laguna Beach (14-10, 7-1 in league) prevented the Mustangs from tying them for first place, with Mesa (16-8) dropping to 5-3 in league on Senior Night.
In an impressive sidenote, the Breakers beat the Mustangs for the 15th time in a row, dating back to Jan. 12, 2007.
"We shot them out of their zone defense," said Laguna Beach Coach Bret Fleming. "Once they went man-to-man, we felt it was pretty much over. We lost Wednesday to Estancia (41-40), so we were a little (ticked) at that."
The carnage began with a little less than two minutes left in the first half. With Costa Mesa holding what would be its final lead at 25-23, Laguna Beach senior forward Derek Reigel muscled inside for a tough basket, then junior guard Jake Dalke followed with a big three-pointer with two seconds left in the half for a 29-26 Breakers lead.
Senior guard Brandon Lewis popped up and nailed another three-pointer, giving Laguna Beach a 35-25 lead.
Junior guard Cole Kesler launched two threes during the run, part of his 24 points. Kesler shot four of five from beyond the arc and nine of 14 from the field. Laguna Beach seemingly drilled every important basket in sight, finishing 20 of 39 from the floor.
"It just kept going in," Kesler said. "Everyone's been working hard in practice and it paid off tonight. We're working hard and if we keep playing like we've played the rest of league, we have a good shot at getting to the (CIF) finals."
Fleming said the team keyed off Kesler most of the evening, after he was asked to carry the scoring load.
"Cole's a kid who's really unselfish," Fleming said. "I've been yelling a bit to shoot the open jumper. Sometimes he does, sometimes he doesn't. He caught fire, everything else rolled from there."
Costa Mesa, which shot 14 of 44 from the field, fought back from a 40-25 deficit to get to 43-36 after the third quarter. Nick Hefner sank a three-pointer, then Nick Dawson scored on an offensive putback to cut the lead to, 43-34. Dawson and Hefner each scored a team-high 12 points.
But in the fourth quarter, Laguna Beach caught fire from beyond the arc and under the basket, with Lewis, Kesler and Dalke (11 points) using an effective inside-out game to seal the deal.
Estancia also won Friday, putting them in second at 5-3 in league.
"We're right in there for second place right now," Mustangs Coach Bryan Rice said. "If we win out, we should get at least second and possibly a home playoff game."
Rice liked how his team battled back late in the third. His team went to a man defense in part because of the deficit.
"When teams are shooting like that, it's tough to come back," Rice said. "They hit shots, we'd miss them. When you're down six, seven points like that, we were pressing, so they're not always quality shots, with their feet set. So it can turn from that into a 20-point loss pretty quick."
Costa Mesa plays Tuesday at Calvary Chapel in Santa Ana, before finishing its regular season with a Thursday game at Estancia.
Orange Coast League
Laguna Beach 60,
Costa Mesa 41
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Laguna Beach 13 16 14 17 -60
Costa Mesa 15 12 9 5 -41
LB – Kesler 24, Dalke 11, Lewis 9, Reigl 7, Masukawa 5.
3-pt. field goals – Kesler 4, Lewis 3, Dalke 1.
Fouled out – None.
Technicals – None.
CM-Hefner 12, Dawson 12, Walden 7, El-Assadi 3, Hayes 3, Comer 2.
3-pt. field goals – Hefner 2, Walden 1, Hayes 1.
Technicals – None.