A week ago, the Laguna Beach boys' basketball team squandered a chance to control the Orange Coast League race.
Wednesday at Dugger Gym, the Breakers again got the upper hand.
Laguna moved into sole possession of first place in league and dropped Estancia from a share of that lead by scoring a 47-31 victory over the visiting Eagles. The Breakers did it by playing tough defense and leading from start to finish.
Laguna pulled away down the stretch to complete a league sweep of the Eagles, who they rallied to beat, 59-52, in the league opener Jan. 12.
The Breakers held a 20-15 halftime lead and put the clamps down on the defensive end from the start. They limited the Eagles to just 15 first-half points and surrendered just 16 more over the final two quarters.
Laguna improved to 13-9 and 6-1 in league. "I thought we defended really well and played real hard, and that went a long way for us," Laguna Coach Bret Fleming said. "This was a good win.
"Defensively, we went into the game saying that we had to focus on shutting down (Davon) Joyner and (Ray) Holmes, who is a good three-point shooter. I thought Jake (Dalke) did a great job on containing Joyner and really stepped up, and Cole (Kesler) mostly defended Holmes, although we threw a lot of switching screens on him. It was a real nice effort on defense."
Joyner, a 6-foot-4 point guard, came into Wednesday's game averaging nearly 17 points. The Breakers held the senior to six. Holmes, meanwhile, didn't hit a three-point shot and tied his season low in scoring with three points.
The Eagles' Rashad Davis led all scorers with 18 points.
Dalke's 11 points paced the Breakers, whose balanced scoring included eight points by Tyler Kesler — who was coming off an ankle sprain that had sidelined him the last two games — seven each by Cole Kesler and Jack Pillsbury, six by Derek Reigel, five by Paul McCabe and three by Tyler Masukawa.
Masukawa, who didn't play in last Friday's league game at Calvary Chapel because of illness, still was under the weather Wednesday. The junior did play a couple of minutes to start the game before heading to the bench. He did return late in the game to replace Cole Kesler, who began to cramp up.
"I thought Tyler did a real nice job defensively after Cole cramped up," Fleming said. "He wasn't feeling well but played some good minutes."
In their previous league outing, Laguna recorded a key 59-54 league win Friday at Calvary Chapel. Cole Kesler's game-high 20 points included seven from the foul line. Both Brandon Lewis, who hit three three-point shots, and Dalke had 11 points as Laguna completed a season sweep of the Eagles.
Laguna heads into the final week of league play holding a one-game lead over Estancia in the standings, and a two-games-or-more edge over the rest of their league foes. The Breakers face another stiff test at 7 tonight when they host Costa Mesa. The Breakers pulled out a 37-36 win at Costa Mesa on Jan. 21.
Laguna closes out its league and regular season next week with road games Tuesday at Godinez and Thursday at Saddleback. Tip-off both days is 7 p.m.
Saddleback is the only team to have defeated the Breakers in their first seven league games. The Roadrunners surprised the Breakers, beating them, 42-39, on Jan. 26.
"After the Saddleback game, we had some real tough practices," Fleming said. "We were getting old and soft and we needed to get back to working hard and have some consequences if we didn't work hard. That being said, I think our worst three performances this year have been against Costa Mesa, Godinez and Saddleback, and those are the three remaining league opponents for us.
"We have to keep the attitude that we obviously can beat anybody in this league, but that we can be beaten, too. The kids have to understand that they have to outwork their opponents in order to be successful."
Laguna split two Orange Coast League games in the past week.
The Breakers headed into the weekend on a winning note having knocked off host Calvary Chapel, 45-26, on Jan. 27. They weren't as fortunate against a hot three-point shooting Estancia team that left Dugger Gym with a 71-49 win.
Laguna turned a 16-3 first-quarter lead into a 24-8 halftime advantage against Calvary Chapel. Emily Writer led all scorers with 17 points. Lola Cowie had 11 points behind three three-point shots and Sam Garner tallied 10 points, 15 rebounds and eight blocks.
In Tuesday's loss to Estancia, Laguna held a 17-14 lead after one quarter but was outscored, 28-9. The Breakers managed to trim the deficit to eight points in the third quarter but couldn't overcome the Eagles' three-point shooting.
Estancia connected on 16-of-26 attempts from the three-point line. Kassie Stratton, who led all scorers with 25 points, and Jenny Boldizar (15 points) both hit five three-pointers.
Writer had 18 points and Cowie 15 points for the Breakers.
"That was an incredible feat that is unheard of at any kind of level," Laguna Coach Jon Hendrickson said. "I have to give them their due. The girls, though, never stopped playing and hustling and I was proud of their effort."
Laguna, which was 9-9 overall and 3-4 in league through Wednesday, completes its league schedule next week. On Monday, the Breakers play at Godinez and travels to face Saddleback on Wednesday. Both games start at 7 p.m.