The Laguna Beach boys' basketball team bowed out of the CIF Southern Section Division 4A playoffs Feb. 18 only after a last-second shot in overtime rolled off the rim.
Ninth-ranked Laguna trailed visiting Whittier Christian, 55-54, with 2.6 seconds to play after Chris Torres hit a free throw to put the eighth-ranked Heralds in the lead. Following a time out, the Breakers threw a inbounds pass that went to junior guard Tyler Masukawa, who drove to the basket. Masukawa was contested on the play and his layup went off the rim at the buzzer and Whittier Christian held on for a second-round win.
"We played well," Laguna Coach Bret Fleming said. "We got off to a great start and had the lead, but they came back. They're a team with a lot of seniors and they kept staying in the game, kept their composure."
Laguna took a 10-point halftime lead (24-14) and led by as many as 16 points in the third quarter. Whittier Christian climbed back into the game by going on a 10-0 run in the quarter and the Heralds took their first lead in the fourth quarter. The teams traded leads before they went into overtime.
With the score tied at 54 late in overtime, Masukawa drove to the basket, drew a "hip check," Fleming said, but the shot didn't drop. The Heralds rebounded, threw an outlet pass that went to Torres, who was fouled on a fast break drive to the basket with 2.6 seconds left. He hit one of two free throws, his only point of the game, to put the Heralds ahead for good.
Whittier Christian was eliminated Tuesday after losing, 73-50, to top-ranked Oaks Christian.
Masukawa and Brandon Lewis, who hit five three-point shots, both finished with 15 points and Derek Reigel was next with eight points for Laguna, which turned in a 17-10 season and won the program its fifth straight Orange Coast League championship.
Starting forward Tyler Kesler, the only senior on the roster, had three points.
"This was a group of guys who had a good year," Fleming said. "I didn't think we overachieved, which is my goal, but they had a good year. I think they probably played their best game in their last game of the season and against a team that has a lot of experienced seniors.
"There were a lot of positives to come out of the season and I think we gained a lot of experience. We're young and I hope the kids come back hungry next year and work hard to go further in the playoffs."
Laguna's season came to an end Feb. 17 in a 64-28 loss to second-ranked St. Anthony in an opening-round game in the Division 4A playoffs. Senior guard Emily Writer scored 20 of her team's 28 points in her final performance as a Breaker.
St. Anthony has since defeated No. 15 South Pasadena (66-45) and 10th-ranked La Salle (49-35) and will play at third-ranked JSerra Saturday in the division semifinals.