Nolan Naess appeared ready on Wednesday night to carry the Laguna Beach High boys’ basketball team to a deep run in the CIF Southern Section Division 3AA playoffs.
The 6-foot-7 junior has never been past the second round in the postseason. He guided the No. 4-seeded Breakers there for the second time in his three years, scoring 29 points in a 64-46 first-round win over Ocean View at home.
After the win, Breakers coach Bret Fleming waited out the results to learn where his team would play next. He found out that Newhall Hart outlasted Covina 75-71 in overtime, meaning that Laguna Beach has a lengthy trip to play at Hart in the second round Friday night.
“We’re going to Magic Mountain,” Fleming said with a bit of smirk, knowing that it’s actually a business trip up north to play basketball and not a trip to an amusement park.
It started on the defensive end for Wave League champion Laguna Beach (21-7) against Ocean View (16-13), which tied for third place in the Golden West League. The Breakers held the Seahawks down early, opening a 17-6 lead after the first quarter.
“For us, it’s can we get stops?” Fleming said. “If we do what we’re supposed to do on the defensive end, then we feel like we can play with people in the division. We know what we’re going to get offensively, but defensively, the kids need to be locked in and valuing the defensive end of the floor where we’re getting stops.”
Junior Chase Hall scored nine points for Laguna Beach, which won its eighth straight game. Junior point guard Willie Rounaghi and senior guard Brooks Hogenauer added eight points each.
Ocean View cut its deficit to 24-20 on a pair of free throws by junior guard Ryan Vu midway through the second quarter. But Laguna Beach immediately scored 10 unanswered points, the run extending into the third quarter.
Many of the Breakers’ makes came at the basket, though they made six three-pointers, half of those by Naess.
“We saw that [Ocean View] likes to get up and pressure, even on a defensive rebound,” Naess said. “We knew that if we could get it out on the break, that we could get easy buckets ... It’s pretty easy to get back-door [layups] and drive in when the defense is so spread out.”
Junior guard Luke Washington led Ocean View with 14 points, and junior forward Slater Miller added 12. The Seahawks, led by first-year coach Brendan Holmes, were young this season. On Wednesday, they started four juniors and a sophomore.
A string of five straight Golden West League titles ended for the Seahawks this season, but Holmes said opponents like Laguna Beach were beneficial for his squad.
“I think [the Breakers are] kind of a perfect team to take away stuff from, because they play so hard defensively and offensively,” Holmes said. “They run their stuff so well. We found that when we were willing to go the distance on offense, take on their defensive pressure and move the ball, we got good looks.
“I think every bit of [this season] was a big learning experience. We’ve been pretty successful in league for a while now, with everybody kind of giving you their best shot. I think they’re starting to realize that they have to always be on, in order for us to continue to be successful.”
CIF Southern Section Division 3AA Playoffs
Laguna Beach 64, Ocean View 46
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Ocean View 6 – 14 – 9 – 17 — 46
Laguna Beach 17 – 11 – 20 – 16 — 64
OV – Washington 14, Miller 12, Vu 8, Lopez 7, Martinez 3, Schnekenburger 2.
3-pt. goals – Washington 2, Vu 1, Martinez 1.
Fouled out – None.
Technicals – None.
LB – Naess 29, Hall 9, W. Rounaghi 8, Hogenauer 8, Kravitz 7, Sirianni 2, Panganiban 1.
3-pt. goals – Naess 3, W. Rounaghi 2, Kravitz 1.
Fouled out – None.
Technicals – None.
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