You could say the turnaround the Laguna Beach High girls' basketball team experienced last year was nothing short of phenomenal.
One year after going winless (0-18), last year's Breakers, a young squad that received big contributions from its upperclassmen and a strong freshman class, went the complete opposite direction. They racked up a win total of 19 games, setting a new school record for wins in a single season, and finished 19-6 overall. They started the season with a 6-0 run, won 12 of their first 13 games, and concluded it with an appearance in the CIF Southern Section Division 4A playoffs.
Laguna also won the only two nonleague tournaments it entered last year. No Laguna team had won a tournament title in any previous year, Coach Mark Lewis said.
Ten players, including four starters, return from last year's record-setting team. Among that group is sophomore guard/forward Jackie Cenan who last year, as a freshman and starter, was named co-MVP of the Orange Coast League, and MVP of both tournaments Laguna won.
Cenan averaged a near double-double per game last year with 17.8 points and 9.8 rebounds averages. She also led the team in steals with four per game, and was second per game in assists (2.3).
Two other all-league players, senior center Jane Wallin (first team) and sophomore guard/forward Alexandra Lewis (second team), as well as senior guard Kyra Humphries, also are returning starters.
Wallin averaged just over nine points and six rebounds per game, Lewis 6.5 points, three steals and nearly two assists, and Humphries 5.5 points, 2.5 assists and nearly three steals a game.
"After coming off a successful campaign, we can expect that teams will be prepared for us on a nightly basis," Lewis said. "Our schedule is a bit more demanding this season, but we are well positioned to be able to enjoy some good success again this season. We have our core players returning with good experience from last season, and some girls who have developed in the off-season along with the two new freshmen additions.
"Last season, we were focused on turning the program around, learning how to win and then letting winning beget more winning. We had a goal to compete strong in league and to earn a CIF berth. We did that. This season, our goal is to compete for league title, which will in turn earn a CIF berth, but one that will hopefully come with a better seeding so we can move beyond the first round deeper into the playoffs."
Laguna won the program's only league championship in 2005.
The Breakers launch their season Tuesday with a 6 p.m. nonleague game at Newport Harbor. The remainder of their nonleague slate includes appearances at the Oxford, Ocean View and MaxPreps tournaments in December, and nonleague games against Anaheim, Sage Hill and St. Margaret's.
Laguna won championships last year at both the Oxford and MaxPreps tournaments.
The Breakers start Orange Coast League play Jan. 16 at home against Estancia whom Lewis considers the league favorite.
The Breakers, who last year finished tied for third place in league, and then defeated Costa Mesa in a third-place playoff game to earn an automatic berth to the CIF Southern Section playoffs, handed defending league champion Estancia its only league loss last year.
"This season will present new challenges," Lewis said. "The greater the challenge, the greater the reward.
"For the seniors, it is an opportunity to cap off their high school careers with a nice run toward a league championship and into CIF. For the underclassmen, it is an opportunity to expand their games and establish the Laguna Beach program as a perennial league contender."
2013-14 Girls' Basketball
Head coach: Mark Lewis (third year)
Coaching staff: Clayton Olivier.
2012-13 records: 19-6 overall; 7-4 league (third place).
2013 CIF results: Reached Division 4A playoffs; dropped first-round game to Brentwood.
Returning players: *Jane Wallin, C, Sr.; *Kyra Humphries, G, Sr.; *Kendra Overstreet, G, Sr.; *Alexandra Lewis, G/F, Soph.; *Jackie Cenan, F/G, Soph.; Francesca Cecutti, F/C, Soph.; Murphy Thompson, F, Soph.; Ashley Brown, Guard, Soph.; Sabrina Sanchez, Guard, Soph.; Marisa Mazza, F, Soph. (*denotes returning starter).
Returning all-league players: Jackie Cenan, co-MVP Orange Coast League; Jane Wallin, first-team all-league; Alexandra Lewis, second-team all-league.
Newcomers: Nicole Davidson, G, Fr.; Rachel Kenney, G, Fr.
Season keys: "The keys for success this season are going to be our defensive intensity and playing together as a team," Lewis said. "Also, we will have to stay focused on our goals and stay healthy."
Season opener: Tuesday, 6 p.m., at Newport Harbor.
Breakers 2013-14 Schedule
Tuesday : at Newport Harbor, 6 p.m.
Dec. 2-7: at Oxford Patriot Tournament (TBA)
Dec. 9-14: at Ocean View Tournament (TBA)
Dec. 18: Anaheim, 6 p.m.
Dec. 21: at Sage Hill, 6 p.m.
Dec. 26-30: at Max Preps Tournament (TBA)
Jan. 10: St. Margaret's, 5 p.m.
Jan. 14: at *Saddleback, 6 p.m.
Jan. 16: *Estancia, 6 p.m.
Jan. 21: at *Calvary Chapel, 6 p.m.
Jan. 23: at *Godinez, 6 p.m.
Jan. 28: *Costa Mesa, 6 p.m.
Jan. 30: at *Estancia, 7 p.m.
Feb. 4: *Saddleback, 6 p.m.
Feb. 6: *Godinez, 6 p.m.
Feb. 10: *Calvary Chapel, 6 p.m.
Feb. 12: at *Costa Mesa, 6 p.m.
(*denotes league game)