Laguna Beach boys’ basketball upset at home by Twentynine Palms

This was not supposed to be the way the season ended for one of the most successful teams in Laguna Beach High boys’ basketball program history.

Ultimately, the Breakers lost at home on Friday night to a team with a championship pedigree.

Second-seeded Laguna Beach was upset by Twentynine Palms 57-54 in the second round of the CIF Southern Section Division 3AA playoffs.

Twentynine Palms (22-8), last year’s Division 3A champion, advances to play host to Lawndale Leuzinger in the quarterfinals Tuesday. Leuzinger (20-8) beat Long Beach Wilson 85-77 on Friday in another second-round game.

Laguna Beach (26-4) was trying to reach the CIF quarterfinals for the third time in five seasons. The Orange Coast League champion finished a win short of tying the all-time program record of 27 wins set in the 1961-62 season.

“I was disappointed with the energy we came out with,” Laguna Beach coach Bret Fleming said. “I think we came out a little bit soft, didn’t anticipate them being as good as they were. I told the kids, they won the 3A CIF championship last year, and they got all of those kids back … I wasn’t pleased with our energy and we couldn’t throw a pea in the ocean.”

Senior Blake Burzell finished his standout career with the Breakers with a 26-point effort, but his potential game-tying three-pointer at the buzzer was partially blocked by Twentynine Palms senior Abe Bell.

The De Anza League co-champion Wildcats were led by senior guard D’Shaun Barrett, who scored 27 points, including six three-pointers. The visitors led for most of the game. Burzell made just four of 16 shots in the first half, which ended with the Breakers down 27-16.

Laguna Beach opened the second half on a 14-2 run, capped by a three-pointer by senior guard Owen McMurray that gave the host a 30-29 advantage. But Twentynine Palms responded well, outscoring the Breakers 13-5 the rest of the third quarter.

Laguna Beach again crawled back, taking its first lead of the fourth quarter on a layup by senior center Adam Armstrong, assisted by Burzell, with 1:30 left. After Abe Bell made two free throws, Burzell’s three-pointer again gave the Breakers the lead, at 54-52, with 45 seconds remaining.

But Barrett answered with his own deep go-ahead three-pointer with 30 seconds left. Burzell attempted another from downtown, but it missed with four seconds left and Twentynine Palms’ Cezar Hueso grabbed the rebound. The Wildcats’ Adam Bell made two free throws with four seconds remaining.

Fleming, in his 23rd year in charge, said it would be tough to replace the Breakers’ senior group, but added he has no plans to step down.

“I’ll be back,” he said.


CIF Southern Section Division 3AA playoffs

Second round

Twentynine Palms 57, Laguna Beach 54


Twentynine Palms 12 – 15 – 15 – 15 — 57

Laguna Beach 5 – 11 – 19 – 19 — 54

TP – Barrett 27, Ab. Bell 16, Ad. Bell 9, Bradbury 3, Hueso 2.

3-pt. goals – Barrett 6, Ad. Bell 1, Bradbury 1.

Fouled out – None.

Technicals – None.

LB – Burzell 26, Morgan 10, C. Rounaghi 8, Naess 5, McMurray 3, Armstrong 2.

3-pt. goals – Burzell 4, Morgan 3, McMurray 1, C. Rounaghi 1, Naess 1.

Fouled out – None.

Technicals – None.

Twitter: @mjszabo