SPORTS YEAR IN REVIEW: Year of achievement

The 2007 prep sports season ends this weekend with various tournament activity for several Laguna Beach High winter sports teams.

Below is a listing of key highlights that were reported to the Coastline Pilot during the past year:

  January-June

Laguna boys’ basketball enjoyed one of the most successful seasons in school history. The Breakers reeled off a school-record 23 wins during the regular season, won the school’s first league title in nine years and its No. 5 seeding in the CIF playoffs was the program’s highest since Laguna was seeded No. 1 entering the 1999 playoffs.

The Breakers were just the eighth team in school history to win a league title.

Senior guard Cheyne Martin, who averaged 28.3 points per game — the second-best single-season average in school history — was named to the Southern California Interscholastic Basketball Coaches’ Assn. Division IIIA team.

“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.”

Laguna’s girls’ water polo team marched all the way to the CIF-SS Division II final at Belmont Plaza Pool in Long Beach on Feb. 26. In a match that went to the wire, the top-seed Breakers were edged by No. 2 Agoura, 11-10.

“They just pushed in one more shot than we did,” Laguna assistant coach Ethan Damato said. “Up until that last second of the game, our girls thought we would win. They played hard the entire way and that’s a testament to the character of this team and their season. They played tough, played hard, against everybody.”

Five days after playing for the CIF-Southern Section Division II championship, Laguna nearly put an end to Division I champion Foothill’s 26-match win streak but fell to the Knights, 7-6, in the final of the inaugural CIF Masters Tournament.

Seniors Jessica McKee and Breanna Duplisea both made the first-team All-CIF, junior Erin Reid and sophomore Annika Dries were second team picks and goalie Celia Huling was a third team selection.

Junior Bret McGaughey brought prestige to the Laguna Beach boys’ golf program by winning the Orange Coast League individual championship on May 1, winning the league final at El Prado Golf Course in Chino Hills by two strokes. He, along with teammates Skylar Perkins and Michael Cannon, advanced from the prelims into the finals round.

The boys’ volleyball team, which coasted to the Orange Coast League title, reached the quarterfinal round of the CIF-SS Division II playoffs before falling in four games to host Dos Pueblos. Senior outside hitter Blair Bigelow and junior setter Clay Knapp were named to the 2007 Amateur Athletic Foundation/Southern Section Boys’ Volleyball Coaches’ Assn. Division II team.

Members of the Laguna Beach High girls’ swim team came up with big finishes at both the CIF-SS Division II finals the all-divisions CIF-Masters meet in May.

At the Division II finals at Belmont Plaza Pool, sophomores Annika Dries, Taylor Dodson, Natasha Schulmann and Chelsea Wild, finished in sixth-place in a school-record time of 1:41.99 in the 200-free relay. The foursome also finished in fifth place in the 400-free relay.

Wild and Dries each also placed in two individual events: Wild swam to seventh-place finishes in both the 200- and 500-free and Dries placed eighth in the 100-free.

At the Masters meet, also held at Belmont Plaza Pool, Wild finished in 13th-place in the 200-free and was 11th in the 500-free where she turned in a new school-record time of 4:59.05.

New school records also were set at the Masters Meet by the 200-free and 400-free relay teams. The 200-free relay team of Dries, Dodson, Schulmann and Wild, swam a 1:40.96, good for 11th-place. The 400-free relay team finished 14th with a time of 3:40.41

Wild also established a new school record in the 100 during the 400-free relay, Coach Chad Beeler said.

“We’re really pleased with how the girls did,” Beeler said of he and co-coaches Ethan Damato and Chad Carvin. “The girls’ set 14 school records this year.”

In boys’ tennis, the Laguna doubles team of captain Spencer Woo and Noah Michelon, went undefeated in league play and advanced to the quarterfinal round of the CIF sectional tournament. The duo finished the year with a record of 35-2.

In track and field, Laguna won the boys’ Orange Coast League title. At the boys’ finals, senior E.J. Gomez was champion in both the 200- and 500-meters, senior Nick Newell was a triple champion in the long jump, triple jump and high jump, and the Breakers’ 4 x 400 relay team won its race.

At the girls’ finals, senior Brittany Clark easily captured titles in the 100- and 200-meters, senior Alex Crawley took both the 1,600 and 3,200, and the 4 x 100 team won its race.

Crawley went on to claim an individual CIF title by winning the Division IV girls’ 3,200 race at the CIF-SS Track and Field Championship at Cerritos College in Norwalk. She also was named the female athlete of the year in the Orange Coast League.

Clark set a school record in the 200-meters. In April, she won an individual title in the girls’ 100-meters at the Orange County Championships.

  September-December

The big story in the fall wasn’t a result of what took place in athletics.

Rather, it had to do with mother nature.

Fallout from the fires and windy conditions that ravaged Orange, San Diego and Los Angeles counties in mid-October affected outdoor athletic practices and events for more than a week. Some games were postponed or rescheduled while others, simply, were canceled altogether.

Once play did resume, several Laguna teams went on to win Orange Coast League championships and earn CIF playoff berths.

The girls’ volleyball team went undefeated — the Breakers have won all 15 matches in league play since the league’s inception in 2006 — to roll to another crown. But bigger things awaited the Breakers a few weeks later.

In late-November, Laguna won the CIF Southern Section Division II-AA title for a second-consecutive year, sweeping Bishop Montgomery of Torrance.

By defeating the Knights, the Breakers were able to win back-to-back section titles for the first time in school history.

“We believed that we could win the title again but no, I didn’t think we’d sweep everybody,” said senior outside hitter Dana Hutchinson, who had 16 kills and 17 digs in the final. “It’s really cool. This is such a great group of girls, and it’s really special to win this together.”

In fact, Laguna swept its way through the postseason — dominating six opponents — en route to reaching the CIF Southern California Regional final of the CIF State Division III playoffs.

But the Breakers ended up one victory shy of the state Division III title match for a second-straight year after being swept by host Harvard-Westlake.

Laguna had swept nine opponents overall before meeting CIF-SS Division I-A winner Harvard-Westlake in the regional final.

“Our girls did a fantastic job all year and they were really strong in the playoffs,” Breakers Coach Lance Stewart said.

The boys’ water polo team cruised to the league title and reached the quarterfinal round of the Division II playoffs. Senior Pierre Masson went on to be named MVP of the league. Nathan McConnell, goalie Warren Murrel, Victor Alcone and Max Munoz were named first team and Brett Thompson, David Brunner, Sean Dorse and Robert Chew were named second team.

The Breakers went 20-7 overall.

“I think this team did a better job this year than anybody thought they would,” Laguna co-head coach Chad Beeler said. “The kids really stepped it up this season.”

In cross-country, the boys’ and girls’ programs again turned in outstanding campaigns.

Both squads advanced to the CIF State Championships for a fifth consecutive year. In the Division IV race at Woodward Park in Fresno, the girls’ placed fourth and just missed reaching the podium (top three teams), while the boys were in sixth-place.

Both teams qualified for state meet after attaining strong placements at the CIF-SS Division IV finals at Mount San Antonio College in Walnut. The girls’ finished fourth in their division and the boys’ placed sixth.

Both teams also ran to league championships.

“The girls ran very well,” girls’ coach Earl Towner said. “It’s nice to finish the season with a fourth-place finish in CIF and in fourth-place at state."

“It was strange not being on the podium this year but I know that our performance was a solid one and that we will return there again very soon,” boys’ coach Dave Brobeck said. “We’re very proud of our sustained tradition of success.”

The school received a “first” in late-October when the girls’ golf team achieved something no previous team had done since Laguna started a girls’ golf program in 1999: win a league championship.

The Breakers — Shannon Sweeney, Caitlin Barretto, Diana Smith, Grace Stewart, Karina Shaw, Lexy Altman and Emily Marcus — dropped their season opener on Sept. 6 but blazed their way through the rest of the season, winning 11-straight matches including all 10 in Golden West League play,.

“I am just in awe of these girls,” first-year Coach Val Quigley said. “Each and everyone of these girls has contributed to the team’s success.”


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