A chance to further distance itself from the rest of its Orange Coast League foes eluded the Laguna Beach boys’ basketball team, but all is not lost for the Breakers.
Laguna held the lead on Estancia for all but the final 34 seconds Wednesday, and those few, precious seconds turned out to be the Breakers’ downfall. A basket by Robert Sullivan with 34 seconds left put the Eagles into the lead, and the host team had to sweat out a missed layup by the Breakers in the final seconds to emerge with a 41-40 victory.
The Breakers were up six at the half and had an eight-point lead during the third quarter. They maintained a four-point advantage throughout much of the fourth quarter until the Eagles (13-11) rallied for the win.
Laguna’s Brandon Lewis tied Estancia’s Ben Beck for top scoring honors with 14 points. Cole Kesler scored eight points and Noah Blanton, Derek Reigel and Tyler Masukawa each had five points for the Breakers (13-10, 7-1 in league).
“I didn’t think we were real focused and we missed eight layups throughout the course of the game,” Laguna Coach Bret Fleming said. “I thought the kids played hard and hustled, but we didn’t do a good job of recognizing what was available for us both offensively and defensively.”
The loss, although disappointing to Fleming, could have been more costly than it was. Costa Mesa, which trailed Laguna by one game in the league standings, was knocked off Wednesday by Godinez and still trails the Breakers by one game heading into a big showdown Friday at Costa Mesa.
Costa Mesa is next at 6-2 in league. Both Estancia and Godinez are 4-3. Three games remain on the league schedule.
“As far as league is concerned, this is our tough week and we have another real important one Friday at Costa Mesa,” Fleming said. “I’m hoping that we’ll come ready to play, because Costa Mesa will have the place packed.
“I think the key for us will be ball movement against their zone, playing inside out and not just relying on threes. Defensively, I thought their point guard, (Nick) Dawson, played well against us the first time and he did a good job of running the floor for them. We need to find a way to keep him in check.”
In the first league meeting between the teams Jan. 20, the Breakers scored a 63-50 win over the Mustangs.
Next week, Laguna completes league play with a pair of 7 p.m. home games, starting Tuesday against Godinez. The Breakers also play Saddleback on Thursday.
The Breakers came out flat Tuesday against Estancia and suffered a 44-23 loss to the host Eagles. Kylie Even led Laguna with seven points and Kyra Humphries scored five.
In previous league action, Laguna came out strong against Calvary Chapel on Jan. 26 but eventually fell, 44-23. Madeline Knutson scored nine points, Humphries and Audrey Rodriguez had six points and Jane Wallin scored five for the Breakers, who led, 13-2, after the first quarter.
Laguna (0-7 league) wraps up its season next week. The Breakers host Godinez on Monday and Saddleback on Wednesday. Both games tip at 7 p.m.