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Laguna Beach boys’ basketball beats San Clemente to reach Grizzly Invitational title game

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Laguna Beach’s Nolan Naess, left, gets fouled by San Clemente’s Micah Regalado while going up for a shot in the Grizzly Invitational Thursday at Godinez High.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

Laguna Beach High boys’ basketball coach Bret Fleming said coming into Thursday night that his team had shown flashes of being able to compete at a high level.

After the Breakers won their fourth straight game in the Grizzly Invitational, even Fleming had to admit that his team was riding “an up-slope.”

Willie Rounaghi had a game-high 17 points to lead Laguna Beach past San Clemente 49-42 in a tournament semifinal game at Godinez High.

Aliso Niguel will play Villa Park in the other semifinal at 7:45 p.m. on Friday. The winner of that game will take on the Breakers (5-2) in the tournament championship game, which is scheduled to tip off at 7:45 p.m. on Saturday.

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Laguna Beach jumped out to a 10-2 lead, outrebounding San Clemente 7-3 before the Tritons called their first timeout with 4:27 to go in the opening quarter.

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Laguna Beach’s Lucas Kravitz, left, and Brooks Hogenauer, right, block a shot by San Clemente’s Berk Harris in the Grizzly Invitational on Thursday at Godinez High.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

“We did a nice job on the defensive boards,” Fleming said. “[The Tritons are] an athletic team, long. I thought we did a good job of boxing out. That was a big concern of ours going in was keeping them off the boards.”

The Tritons (5-2) battled back to tie the score at 18-18. San Clemente used a 10-3 run to get back in the game, powered by three-pointers from Kade Harrick and Sam Hunter.

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Laguna Beach held a 23-21 lead going into halftime.

A Jackson Sirianni offensive rebound extended a Laguna Beach possession midway through the third quarter. The Breakers took advantage, as Rounaghi drilled his third three-pointer of the night to give Laguna Beach a 33-23 lead, its largest lead to that point.

“It’s huge,” Rounaghi said of his team scoring second-chance points. “Jackson Sirianni is getting a lot better on the boards, and he is working on physicality. When he passed it out, I was ready to shoot that, and I made it.”

Nolan Naess had 15 points, including a trio of three-pointers for the Breakers. He also pulled down six rebounds.

Fleming worked extensively with Naess in the offseason, and he said the junior has taken strides to become a complete shooting guard.

“He’s just trying to become more of a multi-faceted kid, at 6-8, kind of playing the [shooting] guard for us,” Fleming said. “He’s been working a lot on his three-point shot and his handle and his ability to pass the ball, the things that guards need to be able to do.”

Brooks Hogenauer had eight points and nine rebounds for Laguna Beach. Sirianni contributed five rebounds and five assists, while Lucas Kravitz and Chase Hall each scored three points.

Hunter led San Clemente with eight points and seven rebounds. Gavin Cuevas scored six points.

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Laguna Beach’s Brooks Hogenauer defends San Clemente’s Berk Harris as he attempts to drive inside during the Grizzly Invitational on Thursday at Godinez High.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

Grizzly Invitational

Semifinal

Laguna Beach 49, San Clemente 42

SCORE BY QUARTERS

Laguna Beach 12 – 11 – 14 – 12 — 49

San Clemente 8 – 13 – 4 – 17 — 42

LB – W. Rounaghi 17, Naess 15, Hogenauer 8, Kravitz 3, Hall 3, Sirianni 2, Zimmerman 1.

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3-pt. goals – W. Rounaghi 3, Naess 3, Kravitz 1.

Fouled out – None.

Technicals None.

SC – Hunter 8, Cuevas 6, Kooper 4, Harris 4, Harrick 3, Carroll 3, Nemeth 3, Herlean 3, Rumph 2, Goddard 2, Regalado 2, Gardiner 2.

3-pt. goals – Hunter 2, Harrick 1, Carroll 1, Nemeth 1.

Fouled out – None.

Technicals – None.

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