Twelve games into the 2012-13 season, and Laguna Beach High boys' basketball coach Bret Fleming says he's still mystified by his team.
The Breakers have won seven of those 12 outings and most recently wrapped play Saturday at the Irvine World News/Gary Raya Classic. They started off dubiously at the tournament, losing consecutive games to Woodbridge (52-42) and Tesoro (60-52). They regrouped to defeat Esperanza (70-58) and Edison (60-54) in succession, but in the fifth-place game Saturday, lost, 54-45, to Northwood.
Senior guard Cole Kesler scored 17 points and grabbed nine rebounds, and junior guard Alec Wulff scored 14 in the Northwood loss. Kesler, who had eight rebounds and seven assists in the win over Edison, was named to the all-tourney team.
Laguna hasn't played since the Northwood game and returns to action Saturday. The Breakers take on Corona del Mar as part of the two-day North/South Challenge. Tipoff is 12:30 p.m. at El Toro High.
The Sea Kings on Tuesday defeated Los Alamitos, 53-51, at the Sunset League-Pacific Coast League Challenge.
"The team is still a mystery to me," Fleming said. "We've played really well at times and beaten some good teams, and other times, we've lost to teams we should have beat. This tourney (Irvine/Gary Raya Classic) was a good example of that.
"Any time we play CdM, it's a big game. They try to run and press. We'll have to be good in transition and value the ball."
The Breakers will play over the holiday break. They start play Wednesday at the Estancia Coast Classic and will open pool play against Newport Harbor at 1 p.m. at Estancia High. They'll also face Laguna Hills in pool play at 3 p.m. on Thursday, also at Estancia.
Laguna won for the seventh time in its first eight games Saturday when the Breakers defeated host Capistrano Valley Christian, 43-29. Junior Jane Wallin and freshman Jackie Cenan both scored 12 points for the Breakers. Juniors Kyra Humphries and Mandi Wisbaum both scored six points.
"It was nice to get the victory, but we didn't play well in many facets of the game," Laguna Coach Mark Lewis said. "Our defensive rotations were late. We didn't rebound well. We had too many senseless turnovers. On top of that, we couldn't throw a pea in the ocean.
"Coming off the emotional championship run [in the Oxford Academy Tournament] of the week previous, we were flat last week in practice and in the games. It is imperative that we come ready to work hard in practice this week to regain our edge and find our groove going into Thursday's game against Saddleback Valley Christian, and the tournament after Christmas."
Laguna took on Saddleback Valley Christian in nonleague play Thursday. The score wasn't available at press time.
The Breakers next week will be in the Palm Desert area to compete at the MaxPreps Holiday Classic. They play their tournament opener at noon Wednesday against Coachella Valley. The Breakers also play tournament games at 11 a.m. Thursday against St. Margaret's, and at 5:30 p.m. on Dec. 28 against Desert Christian Academy. All three games will be played at Desert Christian Academy High in Bermuda Dunes.
The tournament continues with final day play on Dec. 29.
"This tournament is a great opportunity for our team on a number of fronts," Lewis said. "We get the opportunity to play some good basketball, which will help us as we head into league after the first of the year. Due to the size of the event, not only for the girls, but especially on the boys' side, the girls will get the exposure to somewhat of a basketball mecca at this time of year. There should be some great energy, a lot of good basketball, and a few events associated with the tournament.
"This tournament also is a great way for the girls to bond as a team as they will not only be playing and practicing together, but they will also be having team meals together, enjoying some free time together, and rooming together. All of this will hopefully lead to a closer knit team, which will be a key going into league.
The MaxPreps Holiday Classic is Laguna's final tune-up before the Breakers begin their Orange Coast League schedule at home Jan. 8 against Saddleback.
"We have a real opportunity to put ourselves in a great position coming out of this tournament and heading into league, and look for us to bring the right focus and energy to the games of this tournament," Lewis said.