Tough draw results in early exit

Out of sync for much of Wednesday's CIF Southern Section Division 4AA first-round game, the Laguna Beach boys' basketball team was bumped from postseason play by visiting JSerra, which came away with a 48-33 victory.

Laguna never led against the Lions and was held to a season-low in points. JSerra, the division's No. 10-seed, used defensive pressure and took advantage of a cold-shooting night by the Breakers to take control early.

The Lions, an at-large playoff entry from the Trinity League, turned an 11-6 first-quarter lead into a 26-14 halftime advantage. They increased the lead to 21 points midway through the third quarter on a three-point play by senior guard Reece Lemon, and the Breakers could get no closer than 13 points the rest of the way.

"I thought we had a pretty off-night," Laguna Coach Bret Fleming said. "We couldn't knock down the open three for the most part. On the defensive end, if you told me that we'd hold them to 48 points, then I wouldn't think we'd lose by 15. We just couldn't get things going tonight."

Laguna trailed, 8-1, at the outset and didn't score its first basket until Noah Blanton hit a baseline jumper more than three minutes into the game. Brandon Lewis followed with a three-point shot to bring the score to 8-6, but the Lions responded to the challenge when Rex Pflueger answered with a three of his own.

JSerra took away Laguna's inside game and the Breakers had no answer for the Lions' height advantage.

The Lions put the game away by scoring the first nine points of the second half. Lemon's three-point basket with 4:22 left in the third quarter gave the Lions their biggest lead (35-14) of the night. Laguna did make a brief run by scoring the final six points of the quarter, with Derek Reigel scoring five points behind a hook shot and three-point play. That got the Breakers to within 35-20 after three quarters.

The Breakers then drew to within 46-33 on a threepoint shot by Lewis with 2:17 remaining, but a basket by the Lions' 6-foot-7 junior center, Jamal Aytes, ended the threat.

It was a tough first-round draw for Laguna, which took on a JSerra team that goes up against the likes of Mater Dei, St. John Bosco and Orange Lutheran in the ultra competitive Trinity League. Trinity champion Mater Dei is the top seed in Division 1AA, Orange Lutheran is the No. 3-seed in Division 1A and St. John Bosco is the No. 2-seed in Division 3A.

Laguna, which won its sixth straight Orange Coast League title this year, ended its season at 16-11.

Lewis knocked down four three-point shots and led Laguna with 14 points. The senior guard set a school single-season record for thee-point shots with 85. Travis Hanour (1999-2000 season) held the previous record at 80.

Lewis, Reigel, Tyler Masukawa, Luke Barker, Bryce Blanton and Jack Pillsbury played their final game for Laguna.

Twitter: @MikeSciacca

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