A season full of “championship moments” ended last Friday for the Laguna Beach High boys’ basketball team.
The Breakers’ goal of attaining yet another title during a memorable 2006-07 season, the CIF Southern Section variety, fell a few games short as Laguna dropped a 52-39 decision to visiting Elsinore in the second-round of the Division IIIA playoffs.
Elsinore (15-13), an at-large entry from the Sunbelt League, defeated San Antonio League champ and 12th-seed Rowland in a first-round game on Feb. 14 before taking on a Laguna squad that drew a first-round bye and was the division’s fifth seed.
The Breakers began the postseason with the return of leading scorer Cheyne Martin and absence of leading rebounder Ryan Lawler (broken ankle).
Martin, who broke his wrist during a game in mid-January, managed 10 points but his mobility was limited.
“It was nice to have Cheyne back but he was wasn’t 100%, and you could tell,” Laguna Coach Bret Fleming said. “And we missed Ryan out there. I think the consensus after the game is that if we were healthy, we’d still be playing this week.”
A fired-up bunch of Breakers jumped out to an early lead and was up a point after the first quarter but Elsinore outscored Laguna by eight in the second quarter, to forge a 30-23 halftime lead. The spread was eight heading into the fourth quarter where the Tigers limited the Breakers to just six points.
Brian Delino led Laguna with 13 points.
“We came out pretty hyped-up and took a quick lead, but we were not playing our normal basketball,” Fleming said. “Our game is to pass, cut and move the basketball around and we weren’t doing that. We took three-point shots we normally don’t take.”
The Breakers concluded the season with the second-most victories in school history and most in a single-season, and finished 23-6. They won a couple of tournaments — including the 32-team Garden Grove Tournament — and captured the school’s first league title since 1999. They are just the eighth team in school history to win a league title.
Six Breakers played their final game Friday: Martin, Delino, Ian Butters, Chris Hyden, Bob Monroe and Nathan Pickett.
Fleming has coached many of these players since they were in the third-grade.
“I just have a great feeling about his group of seniors,” he said. “I said in their eighth-grade year, before they were to begin high school, that they’d be the best basketball class to walk into this high school. That held true. I’ve had teams in the past win a lot but never win championships. This team won a few tournaments and a league championship, and those are things to be proud of.
“These kids had several championship moments this year. Those are hard to come by.”