The Laguna Beach High boys’ basketball team ventured to Studio City Feb. 14 to take on host Harvard-Westlake in a second-round game of the CIF Southern Section Division 4A playoffs.
The No. 9-seeded Breakers received a big scoring night from junior guard Alec Wulff but fell behind early and lost a key starter in senior Jake Dalke in the third quarter. The combination resulted in a 73-60 loss to the No. 8 Wolverines.
Wulff sank a career-high seven three-pointers and scored a career-best 29 points for the Orange Coast League champs who end their year 22-7. Dalke, who picked up two, quick fouls in the first quarter, exited the game for good midway through the third quarter after suffering what Coach Bret Fleming said was a “bad” ankle sprain.
Senior guard Cole Kesler closed out his impressive Laguna career with a 17-points game.
The Breakers also were surprised before tip-off when Harvard-Westlake junior small forward Derick Newton, who Fleming said had been injured and hadn’t played in the Wolverines’ four previous games, was suited up and did play against the Breakers.
Newton went on to lead the Wolverines in scoring with 21 points. David Winfield, a 6-foot-9 senior center and son of Major League Baseball Hall of Fame member, Dave Winfield, scored 13 points.
“Best team we’ve faced all year,” Fleming said, when asked to rank the Wolverines against Laguna’s previous opponents this season. “They have size, athleticism, and depth. They had some good shooters who kind of stretched the floor. We didn’t box out and they hurt us, a lot, passing inside to their big kids.
“I thought Alec [Wulff] and Cole [Kesler] both came out and competed from the start and didn’t back down, at all. Overall, we didn’t play real physical, and we needed to be physical in this game. But I did think the kids did compete real hard and gave a really good effort.”
Four Breakers, Dalke, Kesler and fellow seniors Shea Rouda and Frank Shojaei, played their final varsity game. Dalke ended his four-year varsity career with four league championships, Kesler won three, Rouda two and Shojaei, who played four years in the program, won one title this year in his first varsity season.
“It was a great group of seniors,” Fleming said. “It was tough enough talking to everyone after the [Harvard-Westlake] game, but it was very emotional talking one-on-one with the seniors.
“In total, we had a great year. We went 22-7, 10-0 in league, and those are both good marks. I think, both myself and the kids, who would agree, would like to have back a few of those games we lost. But, that is part of the learning process. This was a great group of kids who worked really hard, and they were really nice kids, as well. I thought we had good team chemistry all year.”
Harvard-Westlake was eliminated, 78-58, by top-ranked Bishop Montgomery in Tuesday’s quarterfinals.
The Breakers saw their successful season come to a close Feb. 14 at Brentwood in a 59-32 loss to the No. 9-seeded Eagles in an opening-round game of the CIF Southern Section Division 4A playoffs.
Laguna trailed, 17-4, after one quarter, and never recovered against a Brentwood team that last year was the Division 4A runner-up.
Freshman forward Jackie Cenan led Laguna with 12 points. Junior Jane Wallin scored seven points and freshman guard Alexandra Lewis scored five points.
“Our defense which has been the cornerstone of our success this season was not good,” Laguna Coach Mark Lewis said. “We fouled early and allowed their shooter to get hot. We didn’t execute our defensive game plan leading to the large deficit. Once behind, it became an uphill battle to try to get back into the game.
“That said, it was an unfortunate end to an otherwise magical season.”
The 2012-13 Breakers, who went 19-6, broke the following schools records during the season: consecutive wins to start a season (six), consecutive wins (seven), most wins in a single season (19, previous: 15); won first-ever tournament during the regular season.
The Breakers also won a second tournament, and finished third in their other tourney appearance, during the regular season. Prior to the 27-point loss to Brentwood, their five previous losses were by a combined 26 points.
Brentwood was eliminated from title contention following a 45-43 loss Saturday to No. 8 Crossroads.
Laguna finished third in the Orange Coast League to earn a CIF playoff berth.
“We set goals at the beginning of season, with making CIF being one,” Lewis said. “We achieved that goal. I would say we exceeded our goals and expectations by winning two tourneys and 19 games total. We are young and only lose two to graduation, so the future continues to shine bright. We have another good crop of incoming freshmen to complement our returning players.
“I look forward to next season and those to follow. We have the foundation and makings of a program with an opportunity for sustained success over multiple years.”