By Mike Sciacca
4:08 PM PST, January 2, 2014
The final tuneup prior to the start of the Orange Coast League boys' basketball season will present Laguna Beach Breakers one final, big nonleague test, before the Breakers can begin its league title defense.
Laguna will meet Brethren Christian at 1:30 p.m. Friday at El Toro High. The matchup is the opener of the 15th annual Orange County North/South Challenge at El Toro. The 10-game event features five matchups Friday and Saturday at El Toro.
Other Friday games: 3 p.m.: Tesoro vs. La Habra; 4:30 p.m.: Aliso Niguel vs. Westminster; 6 p.m.: San Clemente vs. Edison; 7:30 p.m.: Mission Viejo vs. Servite.
Saturday games: 1:30 p.m.: Saddleback Valley Christian vs. Los Alamitos; 3 p.m.: Capistrano Valley vs. Huntington Beach; 430 p.m.: Woodbridge vs. Sunny Hills; 6 p.m.: Dana Hills vs. Sonora; 7:30 p.m.: El Toro vs. Ocean View.
Brethren Christian has won 11 of 12 games. The Warriors, ranked No. 3 in CIF Southern Section Division 5AA, have won two tournament titles (La Verne Calvary Baptist, MaxPreps) and finished third in their other tournament appearance (Loatella) during nonleague play.
Laguna Coach Bret Fleming said his Breakers played BC during fall league competition, before the start of the 2013-14 season.
"I think we've played teams thus far in the preseason, that have prepared us to play against anybody," Fleming said.
Laguna, ranked No. 10 in Division 4AA, is 10-5 overall. The Breakers are coming off a 2-2 showing at the 24th annual Torrey Pines Holiday Classic which ended Monday. Prior to that event, they finished runner-up at the Irvine World News Tournament.
Senior guard Alec Wulff hit five three-point shots and scored a game-high 24 points, and senior guard Noah Blanton scored 18 points, to pace Laguna in a 55-50 victory over Arizona Ironwood Ridge in its Torrey Pines tournament finale Monday.
"I think we learned a lot about our team during this tournament," Fleming said.
The Breakers posted an overall record of 2-2 (Open Division) at the MaxPreps Tournament. They earned victories over Indio Shadow Hills and Washington Mount Si, and lost games to La Costa Canyon and Downey.
Sophomore guard Jackie Cenan made the all-tournament team.
Laguna started the tournament Dec. 26. The Breakers stormed to an early lead on Shadow Hills and ran out to a 64-37 victory. Cenan and sophomore guard Alexandra Lewis both scored 24 points with Lewis connecting on a school-record six three-pointers. Senior center Jane Wallin and freshman guard Nicole Davidson each chipped in six points, and sophomore forwards Francesca Cecutti and Marisa Mazza scored two points each.
Wallin had a team-high 18 points in an 88-46 loss Dec. 27 to La Costa Canyon, but the Breakers bounced back from that defeat to win an overtime thriller Saturday, 59-56, against Mount Si. Lewis hit three thee-point shots early in the game to help the Breakers build a lead, but Mount Si rallied to go ahead. Laguna Coach Mark Lewis said Cenan, following a slow start to the game, "kicked it into overdrive" with a combination of driving layups and feeds inside to Wallin for scores, to lead a Laguna rally that tied the score.
Cenan also had a last-second shot in regulation rim out but in overtime, she took control scoring all nine of Laguna's points, "willing us on the offensive end," Lewis said.
Cenan finished with 26 points, Wallin 20 points, and Alexandra Lewis had 10 points.
In their final tournament game Monday, the Breakers were defeated, 59-40, by Downey. Cenan scored 19 and Wallin 12 points.
"Going into the tournament knowing that we were going to be playing a very good La Costa Canyon team, I knew it would be tough to repeat as champions having been placed in the Open Division," Mark Lewis said. "I thought if we could come away from the tourney 2-2, that we would have had a good tournament. And we did, from that standpoint.
"However, we really let one get away from us against Downey. We didn't come out with any energy, we had poor execution on both ends of the floor and got down big early. We managed to tie it at halftime and had a really good opportunity to take control but our turnovers and lack of execution on both ends continued in the second half, and we weren't able to mount another comeback. We should have come away from the tourney 3-1 but finished 2-2, which is a decent showing considering some of the teams in the tournament."
At the MaxPreps Tournament, Alexandra Lewis took second place in the tournament's three-point shooting contest. She was second to senior Abby Conklin of San Juan Hills in front of 3,000 spectators during a night that included two Open Division boys' semifinals games, and the opening round and finals of the dunk competition.