Breakers slowly getting there

It's only summer, yet Bret Fleming placed the bar high.

For the past month, the Laguna Beach High boys' basketball program has been immersed in summer league play, from incoming freshman to the varsity level. Numbers wise, it was a strong turnout. Performance wise, not up to the standards Fleming would have liked.

"We've kind of struggled, really," he said. "Maybe my expectations were too high. I was expecting us to be further ahead. But, hey — it's summer. We'll get there."

Laguna Beach put a young team — the Breakers started just two seniors — on the floor during the 2009-2010 season that ended with a fourth straight Orange Coast League championship and a trip to the CIF playoffs. In mid-June, three starters from that team, and a few others who got in significant minutes, were out on the court again during the summer session.

The transition from spring to summer wasn't so smooth, however, as a few players, including all-league starting point guard Tyler Masukawa, were hit by the injury bug.

"My thought process at the end of last season was that we had more to work with heading into this summer than we did the previous year when we lost a lot of players to graduation," Fleming said. "But we've had a lot of players injured since the spring and that has hindered us a bit. We have some of those players back now, but it's taken us a while to get into a flow. I think we'll get there eventually."

Masukawa, who suffered a knee injury during the spring, returned to practice less than two weeks ago.

"He's not at full speed, but it's nice to have him back," Fleming said.

Masukawa, who started last year as a sophomore, is a returning all-league player along with junior-to-be guards Jake Dalke and Derek Reigel.

"We never seem to be able to have eight or nine guys in our rotation, which would make a big difference," Fleming said. "Still, we have a group out here that wants to get better. They show up every day and work hard. They haven't quite clicked with the competitiveness aspect, but I know they'll get there. We've been close in several games, but we haven't been able to finish. It's just a matter of stepping up and saying, 'yes, we can win this.' "

The Laguna plays its summer league games at Segerstrom High in Santa Ana. Its remaining schedule has only Estancia on Tuesday and Newport Harbor on Thursday left. The Breakers played in the Corona del Mar tournament at the outset of the summer season and last week, wrapped up tournament play at Concordia College.

At the freshman level, Fleming said he was "real pleased" with the turnout of incoming players.

"We had about 15 come out for summer, which is good for us," he said. ""We've got a pretty talented group of kids coming in."

The freshmen played summer league games at Mission Viejo and had their final game Wednesday. They'll end the summer season this weekend at the Trabuco Hills tournament. Last weekend, the freshmen finished third at the 20-team Corona del Mar tournament.

Fleming said that 10 players, mostly sophomores and a few juniors, played at the junior varsity level. The JV team competed at the Corona del Mar tournament and on Wednesday completed summer league play at Aliso Viejo High.

"I kind of feel like we are on the verge of being pretty good," Fleming said. "I think getting there has a lot to do with confidence and maturity.

"I think the kids are ready for August to get here, to take a break from basketball, and from me. Then, it's back to work. I'm excited for the year coming up."

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