Winter Sports Update


CIF Action: Basketball Stopped, But Polo Plays On

Boys Basketball
Breakers Stopped in Second Round

No. 15 Jake Dalke goes for a lay up against Carpinteria. The sophomore guard scored 14 points in Laguna’s 54-43 win over the visiting Warriors. Photos by Robert Campbell

Laguna’s run into the Southern Section CIF D-IV playoffs came to another overtime ending as ninth-ranked Whittier Christian rallied from a 35-19 deficit midway through the third quarter Friday, Feb. 18, to defeat the Breakers 55-54 in overtime.

Laguna controlled the tempo early taking an 8-4 lead after one period scoring on three-point baskets by Tyler Masukawa and Brandon Lewis plus a lay-up by Derek Reigel. Breakers added to their lead in the second period as tough defense and a trio of three-point baskets by Lewis sent Laguna into halftime with a 24-14 lead.

Masukawa and Tyler Kesler padded the lead early into the second period before the Heralds (22-7) asserted their inside game to control the boards and set the tempo to the end of the contest.  Breakers could have won the contest in regulation but missed three of four free throws down the stretch.

No. 11 Brandon Lewis hit five three-point shots last Friday night to help the Breakers keep pace with favored Whittier Christian. Heralds pulled off the overtime win 55-54. Photos by Robert Campbell

The overtime period went to Whittier early but the Breakers tied the score with seconds remaining. The Heralds took the

in-bound pass down the court earning a Laguna foul with just two seconds remaining. After missing their first free toss, Whittier scored their final point. In the ensuing desperation play, Breakers had a perfectly tossed pass reach Masukawa three-quarters of the way down the court and his buzzer shot lay-up rolled off the rim to preserve Whittier’s victory.

Earlier in the opening round, Breakers rallied past Carpinteria 54-43 in a contest played Wednesday, Feb. 16, at Dugger Gym. The Warriors controlled the contest early but their early foul trouble sent the Breakers to the line in the second period where the Breakers hit six of seven attempts to climb back into the game. Jake Dalke led the way in the third period as Laguna set the tempo after the intermission and the Breakers pulled away.

Laguna (17-10) returns four starters and their entire bench for 2012 and a chance to add a sixth straight league title next season. The 2011 team finished with the seventh best record among Coach Bret Flemming’s 16 seasons with Laguna.

Girls Basketball
St Anthony Too Much for Laguna

Girls basketball’s second most successful season in the past 30 years ended on Thursday, Feb. 17, with a 64-28 loss at St Anthony in Long Beach. Breakers were unable to keep pace with the talented Saints, who broke the contest open with a long run from the first quarter well into the second period. Laguna’s talented  seniors, Emily Writer and Samantha Garner, concluded their four-year careers with the Breakers . Writer ended up with a school record 1,570 points, 86 games, 18.3 points per game scoring average – all career school records.

Girls Water Polo
Historic Win Over Newport

No. 3 Jessica Shusko fires against Newport. The senior scored the final goal against the Sailors. Photos by Robert Campbell

In the quarterfinals on Friday, Feb. 18, Breakers hosted Newport Harbor for the first time in a match played before an overflow crowd and a driving rainstorm. Newport is coached by veteran Bill Barnett, who has been the boys coach since 1966 and the girls coach since the program was established in 1996. He has also been the men’s Olympic coach in 1988 (Silver Medal) and 1992 (fourth) and a member of the Water Polo Hall of Fame.

The Tars came into the match seeded fourth to Laguna’s fifth seed and expected to dismiss the upstart Breakers. Laguna Coach Ethan Damato has been the guiding force for Laguna polo since 2007 and head coach since 2009. He had the game plan and the Breaker players executed it to perfection. Jessie Holecheck scored early taking a 1-0 lead with less than a minute gone in the contest. The tough Laguna defense coupled with incredible saves by keeper Etianne Manetta frustrated the Tars. Holechek score twice more near the end of the period giving Laguna a 3-0 lead.

Riley Duncan made it 4-0 early in the second period off a deflected shot with Newport’s only goal
coming in the final two minutes of a period of disputed play. Laguna responded 16 seconds later as Holechek scored again to take a 5-1 lead into the intermission. The score could have been worse as Laguna missed five other clear shot opportunities while Newport struggled to get a shot attempt off against the Laguna defense.

In the third period, Yoshi Anderson scored early in the period while Jessica Shusko scored with 1:42 remaining to give Laguna a dominating 7-1 score advantage.  Newport finally added a score with just 10 seconds remaining in the period on a far post lob shot.

Etianne Manetta with 10 saves help secured Laguna’s 7-3 win over Newport Harbor last Friday. Photos by Robert Campbell

The score gave Newport momentum and they added a third score early in the fourth period with over six minutes remaining. Newport kept the pressure on and appeared to comeback when Manetta blocked a sure power-play score by Newport with 4:42 remaining. That block seemed to stifle the Sailor momentum. After an exchange of possessions, the Newport crowd was silent for the rest of the contest as the Breaker margin was too great to overcome.  Laguna is now 1-4 in contests with Newport.

This year’s playoff run opened on Wednesday February 16 where Laguna took Irvine 18-3 in an easy opening contest at the local community pool. Laguna scored early and often to leave no doubt who would take the contest with the Vaqueros.  Seven players scored for Laguna led by Jessie Holechek with six goals and Melena Masson with five.

Breakers have made their first venture into the Division I playoffs with perhaps their finest team in the 14 seasons the sport has been played at Laguna.  Breakers have won two titles, nine trips to at least the semifinals, but never in the most competitive grouping. Breakers are 22-7 so far this season and clearly playing their most challenging schedule.

The 2009 season finished at 31-5 losing in sudden death overtime to both Corona del Mar and Newport Harbor but this year’s squad has no dominant player to rely on and is a total team effort.

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