Things pretty much went the way the Laguna Beach High boys’ basketball team had wanted them to go Wednesday at Saddleback. That outcome, sets up a bigger things on Friday.
The Breakers began to dictate the Orange Coast League game midway in the opening quarter, took a commanding halftime lead, and went on to take a 61-26 victory from the Roadrunners.
Laguna held a 34-11 halftime advantage in improving its league-leading record to 7-0. The Breakers, ranked No. 11 in CIF Southern Section Division 4-AA, are 18-6 overall.
“It kind of went as expected,” Laguna Coach Bret Fleming said. “They came out at home fired up, but we got rolling in the first quarter and had the game put away, pretty much, by halftime.”
Junior post Noah Blanton led all scorers with 15 points. Senior guard Cole Kesler scored 11 points, senior guard Jake Dalke and junior guard Matt Jones both scored eight points, and junior guard Bryan Ludloff had six points.
Junior guard Alec Wulff returned to the Laguna lineup Wednesday, started the game, and went on to score five points.
Wulff sat out the Jan. 25 Estancia game due to an ankle injury. In that game, Kesler scored a game-high 21 points as Laguna ran past Estancia, 63-34, at Dugger Gym. Junior post Josh Adams had 12 points, Blanton 11 points, Dalke eight points, and Jones seven points.
At 7-0 in league, Laguna holds a two-game lead in the standings with three league games remaining. The Breakers can clinch a share of another OCL title Friday with a win at second-place Godinez (5-2 league).
Laguna won the first league meeting between the teams, 48-24, two weeks ago.
“The key for us against Godinez is staying consistent on the defensive end and on the offensive end, we want to push the tempo but at the same time, get quality shots,” Fleming said. “It’s our next game up and all we want to do is make sure we play with intensity, defend well, and play together.
“Our focus right now is to continue to get better and focus on CIF coming up.”
The Breakers play their final two games of the regular season next week. They play at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Calvary Chapel, and close out their league schedule with a 7 p.m. home game Thursday against Costa Mesa.
The Breakers won their fifth Orange Coast League game in seven starts Tuesday by overpowering host Saddleback, 62-29. The win completed a league sweep of the Roadrunners whom the Breakers previously defeated by a 61-12 score on Jan. 8.
Laguna is now 17-3 overall and is ranked tied-for-No. 15 in Division 4-A. The 17 wins establishes a new single-season win total for the girls’ program.
The Breakers left little doubt as to the outcome of the game during the first quarter: they bolted to a 27-0 lead after eight minutes and won going away.
Alexandra Lewis was hot from the outside for the Breakers. The freshman guard hit three three-pointers in the opening half and finished with four, overall, and had 12 points. Lewis’ shooting from the outside opened up the inside game for Jane Wallin and Jackie Cenan. Wallin made her presence felt in the first quarter, scoring nine points in the first half, and finished with 11 points for the game. Cenan, meanwhile, led the scoring with 14 points.
Kyra Humphries (seven points) and Kylie Even (two three-pointers, six points) also made key contributions in the win.
“After our strong start, we went flat in the second period, picked it up a bit in the third [quarter] and finished it off in the fourth,” Laguna Coach Mark Lewis said.
The win followed up a big win for the Breakers, a 43-37 home-court decision Jan. 24 over league-leader Estancia. It was the first league loss for the Eagles (6-1 in league), who entered the week with a one-game lead over both Laguna and Godinez who each are 5-2.
Laguna played Thursday at Godinez but the score wasn’t available at press time.
In a close game against Estancia, Laguna gained some breathing room in the fourth quarter and earned a six-point victory.
“Great game, start to finish,” Lewis said of the win. “Defense on both sides was well played. We, again, had both the inside and outside game working.”
Alexandra Lewis again led the Breakers’ outside game, hitting a trio of three-point shots to finish with nine points. Cenan scored in all four quarters and finished with 10 points. Wallin led the team in scoring with 14 and Mark Lewis said her performance in the fourth quarter, “stood out.”
Wallin scored nine of her 14 points in the final quarter.
“With the game tight, we sat Jane in the early part of the quarter,” he explained. “Francesca Cecutti replaced her and gave the team an excellent spark with her hustle. She rebounded well and made a couple of key baskets for us in the first half.
“With Jane on the bench, we clamped down defensively to limit Estancia’s offensive opportunities. I credit Jane’s resurgence when she returned in the fourth quarter to not only the rest she received, but the pep talk she got from [assistant coach] Clayton Olivier. I credit him with getting Jane in the proper frame of mind to enter the fourth period and take over. Jane scored on every touch down low off of great feeds inside from our perimeter players. This created the separation that allowed us to pull away from Estancia and hold on to win.”
When the teams first met on Jan. 10, Estancia came away with a 60-55 win.
“Another key to our success was how well we handled their press,” he said. “In our first meeting, we had numerous turnovers against their press that led to easy baskets. This time, we prepared a game plan to handle their pressure and reduce our turnovers. The girls executed the game plan quite well. That combined with our excellent defensive effort carried the day.
"[It was] a great win for the program. Not only did we give Estancia their first loss in league and draw within one game of first, but it was, apparently, the first time in four years that Laguna Beach had beaten Estancia. The victory was also significant as it established a new record for most wins in a single season at 16.”
Laguna completes its regular season with two league games next week. The first is a 7 p.m. game Monday at Calvary Chapel. The Breakers play host to Costa Mesa at 7 p.m. Wednesday.
CIF Southern Section Weekly Rankings
Boys’ Basketball: Laguna Beach (No. 11, Division 4-AA).
Girls’ Basketball: Laguna Beach (Tie-No.15, Division 4-A).