Winter sports update: Laguna girls water polo take fifth at Holiday Cup




Laguna went 3-2 to close out 2023, dropping an 84-59 game at Dana Hills on Dec. 21 and 64-58 to San Clemente in the opening contest at the Coast Classic on Dec. 27 at Estancia.

Against the Dolphins, Laguna really never threatened in the game despite 19 points from Dylan McEachern and five three-point baskets from Mack Thompson. Third time was not the charm against San Clemente, as Laguna dropped their third meeting with the Tritons this season. Breakers played them close, pulling within two points, but could not take the advantage. Dylan McEachen led the team with 23 points.

Laguna closed out their play in the tournament with three straight wins, defeating Irvine 61-57 on Dec. 28, with Ryan Cheng scoring 19 to lead the way. Sam Burchi scored 10 and pulled down 13 rebounds. Laguna leads the all-time series with the Vaqueros 16-7.

McEachern scored 28 points the following day to lead Laguna past Heritage/Menefee 80-68. In the Consolation finals on Saturday, Dec. 30, the Breakers held off Fountain Valley 67-62 to finish the year. Sam Burchi scored 20 points and pulled in 15 rebounds to lead the team, while Jack Halvorson added 17, Ryan Cheng 13 and McEachen 12. Breakers lead the series with the Barons 9-8 and will host them on Jan. 19 at Dugger Gym.

Next home game is Friday, Jan. 5, with Edison (16-2), 7 p.m. at Dugger Gym. League play opens on Wednesday, Jan. 10, with Marina (13-4) at 7 p.m. at Dugger Gym.


Laguna completed play in the Ocean View tournament with a 5th place finish, defeating host Ocean View 57-52 on Dec. 22 and La Quinta/Westminster 25-19 on Dec. 23. Katie Cheng scored 13 against the Aztecs while Lily Alvarado led the team with 17 points and 11 rebounds against the host Sea Hawks. Sunset Wave League play begins at home on Tuesday, Jan. 9 against Huntington Beach (11-6).


Breakers started their final Sunset Conference run when they faced Los Alamitos (5-8-0) on Jan. 3. Laguna will host Newport Harbor (6-1-1) on Jan. 5, 6 p.m. at Guyer Field and begin Wave League play on Jan. 10 at Huntington Beach (2-5-2).


Laguna was off until Jan. 4, when they visited Marina (2-6-2) for the beginning of the 10-match Sunset Conference play. Breakers are in the Wave League for their final Sunset season with Corona del Mar (8-1-1), Edison (4-3-1) and Fountain Valley (6-4-0). The Breakers will play single games with Marina, Los Alamitos, Huntington Beach and Newport Harbor. Next home contest is Saturday, Jan. 6 at 2 p.m. with Newport (7-3-1).


Ava Knepper, a USC-bound senior, leads the 2024 Laguna Beach Girls Water Polo squad. She is having a year to remember, scoring 44 goals in the first 11 games this season and has pulled off 23 steals and 18 drawn exclusions. Photo/Laguna Beach Girls Water Polo

Laguna 5th at Holiday Cup – Big Week Ahead

Laguna went 3-1 in the 27th Bill Barnett Holiday Cup with some stellar play opening on Friday, Dec. 29, defeating Newport’s JV team 21-5, with Ave Knepper scoring seven goals, and Kara Carver adding five. Emerson Hensley and Claire Turner had three scores each, Presley Jones and Siena Jumani each had four assists. In the quarterfinal match, Laguna lost to Mater Dei 9-8 despite a strong team effort in the game. Knepper scored three goals, while Hensley and Carver each scored twice.

Siena Jumani scored from the cage with a pool-length shot midway through the third quarter to tie the score at five. Breakers missed two uncontested shots down the stretch, which could have been the difference. Siena Jumani was exceptional in the cage, with many key stops.

On Saturday, Laguna easily defeated Corona del Mar 19-13 for their 22nd consecutive victory over the Sea Queens, dating back to January 2013. Ava Knepper scored nine goals, the third-highest in program history, while Emerson Hensley added four. Breakers were able to play their full squad in the contest. In the 5th Place game, Laguna defeated Oaks Chrisitan 11-6 behind four goals from Knepper and two scores each from Kara Carver, Presley Jones, and Sophie Colliday. The squad had led 7-4 against the Lions back on Dec. 16 only to lose 11-10, but at a neutral site, Laguna went up 7-3 this time and stayed on course for the payback victory. Orange Lutheran won the tournament with a 9-8 win over Foothill. Mater Dei defeated Newport 5-4 for third place.

This week: Laguna traveled to Foothill this past Thursday for a meeting with the #3 ranked Knights. This Saturday, Jan. 6, Laguna faces Mater Dei in an 11 a.m. rematch at the Monarch’s pool. Next week, Laguna travels to Corona del Mar for a league game at the Sea Queen’s pool on Wednesday, Jan. 10. Next Friday and Saturday, Laguna is in the Santa Barbara TOC for another major showdown with the top 10 teams.


Breakers travel to league favorite Marina for a match on Jan. 10.

Have a note/question on Laguna sports/correction/update? E-mail Frank at [email protected]Looking for the 2023-24 High School schedules and scores? Check Laguna Beach High School on the Max Preps website.

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