An overpowering start Wednesday put the Laguna Beach High boys' basketball team on course for a big victory.
Laguna jumped all over visiting Saddleback in the opening quarter of the Orange Coast League game at Dugger Gym and ran away with a 72-36 victory. The win kept the Breakers alone in first place in the league standings, two games ahead of the rest of the league pack with three games remaining.
The Breakers had raced to a 29-9 lead by the end of the first quarter.
"I thought we came out in the first quarter and took care of business," said Laguna Coach Bret Fleming whose squad improved to 7-0 in league, and 18-5 overall.
The Breakers are ranked eighth in this week's CIF Southern Section Division 4AA poll.
"We did a real good job of sharing the ball and basically ended the game in the first quarter," he said. "I think Noah [Blanton] had 17 points in that first quarter. It was a really good start for us."
Blanton, who has averaged 13.6 points per game, went on to lead all scorers with 23 points. Senior forward Josh Adams, who carries a 14.4 points per game average, again had a double-digit game with 15 points. Senior guard Alec Wulff (15.7 ppg.) scored 11 and Isaac Wulff, a sophomore guard, had eight points.
Laguna began the second half of league play Jan. 31 and faced a key road challenge at Estancia. The Breakers rose to the occasion and walloped the Eagles, 76-42. Another big, opening quarter, this one resulting in a 26-11 advantage for the Breakers, triggered the victory.
Blanton scored 23 points and hauled in 13 rebounds. Adams and Alec Wulff scored 13 points apiece, and senior guard Matt Jones scored seven points and dished out eight assists."
"He's just a really good passer," Fleming said of Jones. "He did a really good job finding open people all game.
"This was a real good win for us. The kids were focused and played hard. I knew the kids weren't real happy to have let them [Estancia] back in the game when we first played them (Laguna won the Jan. 17 meeting, 53-47). We kind of let the foot off the pedal in that game. This time, the kids played solidly throughout."
The Breakers can sew up the OCL title in the coming week. They host Godinez at 7 p.m. Friday. They close out league and regular season play next week with 7 p.m. games Tuesday at Calvary Chapel, and Thursday at Costa Mesa.
Friday's game with Godinez is Senior Night for the Breakers who end their regular-season home schedule.
It will only be their fifth home game of the season. If they win the OCL title, they'll be assured of at least one more home game when the CIF-SS playoffs start in less than two weeks.
"I expect them to change things up a bit Friday," Fleming said of Godinez. "I think we might see something different from them in terms of defense, like the zone. The first time we faced them, they pretty much played us man-to-man. I also think they'll take the air out of the ball, try to slow things down a bit.
Despite getting off to a slow start and later allowing Saddleback to get within striking distance, the Breakers were able to put a 54-34 defeat on the visiting Roadrunners at Dugger Gym Tuesday.
Laguna led, 27-16, at halftime and had led by 16 points before turnovers and defensive lapses by the Breakers allowed the Roadrunners to close to within nine points (heading into the fourth quarter. The Breakers reestablished control by starting the final quarter with a 12-0 run."
"It took us a while but we found our groove and secured the victory," Laguna Coach Mark Lewis said.