Laguna Hills’ pregame shoot-around Thursday night was reminiscent of the scene from “Pleasantville” in which every shot dropped through the net with uncanny precision. The Hawks looked flawless--much as they had all week in surprising several teams to reach the championship game of the Orange Tournament.
Midway through the second quarter of the title game, though, Laguna Hills lost its golden touch.
The Hawks went cold while Corona Centennial put the finishing touches on a 19-0 run that would propel the Huskies to a 75-52 victory at Chapman University.
“I thought we were our own worst enemy,” said Laguna Hills Coach Dave Brown, whose team had upset No. 6 Santa Margarita on the way to the championship game. “We got out of what we wanted to do early--make passes and be patient. And then we missed a lot of shots early in the second quarter.”
Centennial, the top-ranked team in Riverside County, scored the final seven points of the first quarter and the first 12 of the second to take a 30-13 lead.
An 11-0 run by the Hawks to open the third quarter trimmed the deficit to seven. But Laguna Hills would come no closer as the Huskies thwarted the Hawks’ half-court game with their up-tempo style.
“We had a real nice run there and then turned the ball over two or three times and--boom!--they were down making layups again,” Brown said. “I thought when we got them in the half-court set we were doing well, but we didn’t do that because we were taking bad shots or turning the ball over.”
Forward Jamaal Williams led the Huskies (11-2) with 24 points and nine rebounds, while J.R. Reese scored 16 points and Bryan Williams had 11.
Laguna Hills (9-6) was led by Marshall Houser, who finished with 16 points and 14 rebounds but had to sit out a crucial stretch of the second quarter in foul trouble when Centennial made its move.
Guard Nick Homyack added 14 points for the Hawks, who were also the victim of a 16-0 Husky run to end the third quarter. Centennial led by as many as 24 in the fourth.
Still, Brown was pleased with his team’s play in the tournament. The Hawks won three games after coming in one game above .500.
“I thought we had a good tournament and beat some good teams along the way,” Brown said. “It’s a good experience for us.”
In the third-place game:
Skyline (Wash.) 80, Aliso Niguel 73--Zac Zanolli and Brandon Sievers each scored 22 points for Aliso Niguel. Sky Chambers was four for four at the free-throw line.
In consolation games:
Costa Mesa 88, Canyon 57--Ryan Knaff scored 27 points for Costa Mesa (12-4), including eight three-pointers, and had 11 rebounds. Teammate Mike Payne had 14 rebounds and 11 points.
Fountain Valley 40, Valencia 34--Salman Syed scored 10 points for Fountain Valley. Emmanuel Ortega and Eric Dixon each scored 10 points for Valencia.
Kent Meridian (Wash.) 70, Foothill 43--Chad Bigler scored 12 points and Alex Rasmussen added 11 for Foothill.
Seattle Ingraham 64, Orange 41--Damon Cook scored 18 for Orange in a consolation final.