Aside from a couple of inches here and there, Laguna Beach High School’s basketball team wasn’t giving away much to Estancia Friday.
Estancia, seventh-ranked in Orange County, kept running away from Laguna Beach, and Laguna Beach kept crawling back.
Finally, Estancia wore down the Artists for an 85-66 Pacific Coast League victory in its home gym.
The score was tied, 20-20, at the end of a quarter and Estancia led, 39-36, at halftime. By the end of the third quarter, the Eagles (17-4, 6-0 in league) led, 60-52.
But Laguna Beach rallied once more.
“They’re like a picnic fly,” said Estancia Coach Tim O’Brien, who also called Laguna Beach “pesky.”
Laguna Beach (12-9, 3-3) trailed, 65-60, midway through the final quarter, but seemed to run out of gas.
Estancia’s Torrey Hammond made a three-point play (layup and free throw), Son Ly made consecutive three-point plays (each a driving layup and free throw) and quickly the Eagles’ lead was 74-60 with 3 minutes to go.
“We might have worn them out,” O’Brien said. “They’re pesky, quick and they shoot and pass well. They’re a fun high school team to watch.”
But, he could have added, not to play.
Laguna Beach was troublesome right from the start.
Though, shorter at nearly every position, Laguna Beach took it right at Matt Fuerbringer, Estancia’s 6-foot-5 center.
Laguna Beach’s Josh Borella scored 28 points, most on inside moves against taller defenders. Brad Berberian and Darren Gravely each had 10 for the Artists.
Ly matched Borella, a 6-foot senior, with 28 points, and odd as it sounds, played solid defense on Laguna Beach’s high-scoring guard. If Ly hadn’t, Borella almost certainly would have topped his 30.4-point average and that would have only meant more trouble for Estancia.
Fuerbringer had 20 points and that, too, was a big difference. Laguna Beach had no one to keep Fuerbringer off the boards.
It wasn’t as if Laguna Beach wasn’t trying.
“They were really packing it in on Matt,” O’Brien said of the Artists’ collapsing defense designed to smother Fuerbringer.
But that ploy left Ly and Paul McDaniels, who had 14 points, open on the perimeter.
In other league games:
Laguna Hills 78, Century 55--Brian Masten scored 26 and Paul La Mott added 24 for visiting Laguna Hills (11-8, 4-2). Darvin Thompson scored 15 for Century (9-10, 1-5).
Trabuco Hills 79, Costa Mesa 37--Trabuco Hills (5-13, 4-2) set a school record for fewest points allowed. The previous record was 40 against Anaheim in 1986. Patrick Barnes scored 16 points and grabbed 10 rebounds and Corey Klinke scored 15 points and blocked seven shots for Trabuco Hills.