A long layoff over the holiday break nearly cost the Laguna Beach girls' basketball team Tuesday.
Playing its first game since Dec. 20, Laguna took on host Savanna in nonleague play. The rusty Breakers were plagued early by turnovers and inconsistent play but had enough in the tank to pull out a 46-41 victory.
The score was tied with two minutes to play before Laguna took charge.
"It was a good win though because of our long layoff and the team we played was 9-4," Hendrickson said.
Emily Writer had 20 points, eight rebounds and four assists and Sam Garner was seven of nine from the field and finished with 14 points. Garner also pulled down 13 rebounds.
Through Tuesday, Writer was averaging 24 points and eight rebounds a game and Garner 10 points, 11 rebounds and seven blocks.
Laguna, which improved to 5-3, played at Ocean View on Thursday, the result of which wasn't available by press time. The Breakers host Vaughn of the San Fernando Valley at 6 p.m. Saturday in another nonleague matchup and open Orange Coast League play next week.
They'll play their league opener at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Estancia.
"We still have a ways to go to compete for a league title," Hendrickson said. "We have to play more consistently, both on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. We take too many possessions off and that will be costly when it comes to competing in league.
"We've made some good strides from last year but still need to work hard in order to get where we want to be. Estancia is the favorite, with Godinez and Costa Mesa not too far behind."
Laguna is seeking its first — and just second in school history — league championship since 2004.
Laguna, which has the week off, begins defense of its Orange Coast League title — something the Breakers have owned for the past four years — Wednesday with a league opener at Estancia. Tipoff is 7 p.m.
Laguna last played at the Century Tournament Dec. 27 to 30, where it went 1-3. The Breakers started the tournament with a 66-64 win over Beckman but then dropped games to San Clemente (50-43), San Juan Hills (57-42) and Irvine (57-45).
Against Irvine, Derek Reigel scored 14 points and Jake Dalke, who missed both the San Clemente and San Juan Hills games due to tendonitis in his knee, had 12 points for the Breakers (7-8).
Reigel also had 13 and Tyler Masukawa 11 points in the San Juan Hills game.
"I feel like we've underachieved in the first 15 games," Laguna Coach Bret Fleming said. "Even in most of our wins, we haven't played as well as we should have."
From here on out on the schedule, it's all league, all the time for the Breakers, who haven't had a home game since a Dec. 10 nonleague game against Irvine. They'll finally return to Dugger Gym Jan. 14 to host Calvary Chapel in their second league outing.
Fleming said the off-week has afforded him the chance to review game film and to work out the kinks before league starts.
"This is a chance to start over," he said. "In the Century tournament, we played four games in four days with no practice, and it was the Christmas holiday and with all that combined, I thought that we regressed a little. This week, we've had the chance to correct our mistakes. The standard we've always adhered to around here is to have the kids play as hard as they can. That's something we're working on."
Laguna will face many challenges as it bids to win a fifth consecutive Orange Coast League title. The league race, Fleming says, is a "real toss-up." And the Breakers' league opener Wednesday at Estancia is a tough test right off the bat.
"Estancia beat a good Newport team the other night and then Newport went out and beat Woodbridge, who is really good," he said. "Calvary (Chapel) has played well at times and Godinez and Costa Mesa are teams that can play well and both have a big kid who can make things difficult for us.
"Estancia's a big game to open with. They have this 6-3 guard, Davon Joyner, who averages 18, 19 points, and is a real good player. We're heading into league with a target on our back as reigning champs. We generally draw out the best game from everybody we face in league."
Forward Tyler Kesler, the lone senior on the Laguna roster, leads the team in scoring at just under 10 points and rebounding (6.0 per game). Masukawa has averaged 9.5 points in 12 games and is the team leader in assists with 48. Dalke has averaged eight points and is second in rebounding with 56 boards.