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Laguna Beach boys’ basketball grinds to Wave League win at Fountain Valley

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Laguna Beach‘s Nolan Naess drives to the basket for a layup during a Wave League game at Fountain Valley on Wednesday.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

The name of the game was defense for the Laguna Beach High boys’ basketball team Wednesday night in a key Wave League game at Fountain Valley.

The Breakers had to take out a hot Barons squad to gain outright control of first place in the league, and it started when the host team had the ball.

“We just had to grind defensively, you know?” Breakers coach Bret Fleming said. “Come to help, then make a rotation, then come to help again. I thought we did well at that. At times, we’ll help one rotation and then kind of go to sleep a little bit. Tonight, I thought we stayed with it. We played through possessions.”

Junior Nolan Naess poured in 22 points, and Laguna Beach grinded to a 59-41 victory.

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It’s still early, but Laguna Beach (16-7, 2-0 in league) took over first place with four games remaining in league play. Junior guard Willie Rounaghi had 17 points, including five three-pointers, while senior guard Lucas Kravitz scored 16 points and made three shots from behind the arc.

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Fountain Valley’s Roddie Anderson (10) tries to get off a difficult shot over Laguna Beach’s Nolan Naess, left, and Chase Hall (21) during a Wave League game on Wednesday.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

Laguna Beach, ranked No. 8 in the CIF Southern Section Division 3AA poll, won every quarter and never trailed past the closing seconds of the first quarter. Sophomore guard Aden Casarez’s four-point play gave the Barons (12-7, 1-1) a 14-13 lead late in the quarter, but Naess’ basket in the closing seconds helped Laguna Beach take the lead back.

Roddie Anderson’s three-pointer early in the third quarter trimmed Laguna Beach’s lead to 32-29, but the Breakers immediately scored 12 straight points to seize command. Included in the rally were three baskets inside by Naess, as well as a corner three-pointer by Rounaghi and three free throws from Kravitz, who was fouled while shooting a three.

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“It was huge,” Naess said. “It just took their heart out. They didn’t really want to play after that, so it was nice just going up big and getting that lead ... It’s nice when I have the ball inside, and they come to swarm at me. It just leaves Lucas and Willie open for three. They can’t guard everything.”

Junior guard Jeremiah Davis led Fountain Valley, ranked No. 3 in Division 3A, with 13 points. Junior guard Preston Amarillo added nine points, and Casarez scored seven.

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Fountain Valley’s Preston Amarillo flips the ball in for a layup while being fouled by Laguna Beach’s Nolan Naess (32) during a Wave League game on Wednesday.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

“They’ve been playing really well,” Fleming said. “Watching film on them, they’re just dangerous. Transition is huge for them. They score a lot of their points out of transition, so we were trying to get back, shadow, trying to keep [Davis] and [Anderson] from getting to the rim in transition. [We wanted to] make them play half-court offense, and then guard.”

The Barons, who play at Marina on Friday at 7 p.m., had a three-game winning streak snapped.

Laguna Beach hosts Huntington Beach on Friday at 7 p.m.

“It’s good to be in first, but we’ve just got to finish the second half of league,” Kravitz said. “We’re not satisfied.”

Fleming is attempting to lead the Breakers to their first title since leaving the Orange Coast League, which they dominated, two years ago.

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“Long way to go,” he said. "[2-0 is] a whole lot better than 0-2, right?”

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Laguna Beach’s Nolan Naess turns to shoot as Fountain Valley’s Elijah Nelson, left, and Preston Amarillo, right, defend during a Wave League game on Wednesday.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

Wave League

Laguna Beach 59, Fountain Valley 41

SCORE BY PERIODS

Laguna Beach 15 – 16 – 16 – 12 — 59

Fountain Valley 14 – 10 – 9 – 8 — 41

LB – Naess 22, W. Rounaghi 17, Kravitz 16, Hall 2, Hogenauer 2.

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3-pt. goals – W. Rounaghi 5, Kravitz 3, Naess 1.

Fouled out – None.

Technicals – None.

FV – Davis 13, Amarillo 9, Casarez 7, Anderson 4, Nelson 3, Simut 3, Morris 2.

3-pt. goals – Casarez 2, Amarillo 1, Nelson 1, Anderson 1, Simut 1.

Fouled out – None.

Technicals – None.

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