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Mustangs fall from first

Boys' Basketball

Costa Mesa loses at Laguna Beach in a battle for the top spot in the Orange Coast League.

January 20, 2012|By David Carrillo PeƱaloza
(Scott Smeltzer…)

LAGUNA BEACH — One day is all Costa Mesa High Coach Bryan Rice said he had to prepare for the Laguna Beach boys' basketball team.

One day turned out to be not enough time for the Mustangs to knock off the defending Orange Coast League champion.

In a game featuring two undefeated league teams on Friday night, the Breakers stayed perfect. Laguna Beach improved to 4-0 in league with a 63-50 victory at home.

The Mustangs (14-6, 3-1 in league) still haven't won at Laguna Beach during the Orange Coast League's six seasons in existence.

Despite the Breakers being Costa Mesa's second opponent in a three-day span, this might have been the Mustangs' best shot to prevail at Laguna Beach. The Mustangs, ranked seventh in the CIF Southern Section Division 4A poll, had won seven straight games.

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That streak ended because Laguna Beach has been tough to beat at home in Orange Coast League play, losing only once in its gym.

The Mustangs had to contend with more than the Breakers, who are 11-9 overall. A band showed up, causing all sorts of noise. Costa Mesa seemed to handle the conditions for the first 13 minutes as it led for much of the time.

In the final three minutes of the second quarter, that changed. The Breakers closed out the first half on a 9-0 run. They went into halftime with a 28-21 lead and never looked back.

Laguna Beach's offense created problems for the Mustangs in the final three quarters. Hurting Costa Mesa was having power forward Jake Comer in foul trouble.

Five minutes into the game, Comer collected his third foul. With a senior starter out, Rice said the Mustangs' rotations on defense lagged behind and it cost the visitors.

"We lost this on the defensive end of the floor," said Rice, who saw Laguna Beach shoot 53% from the floor after the first quarter. "They run a great offense."

The Mustangs tried to play catch up in the second half. They appeared to get back in the game when Nick Hefner stole the ball and pushed it up the court with about three minutes left in the third quarter.

Hefner found a wide-open Jordan Walden, who converted a layup, cutting the deficit to five points. But the points never made it onto the scoreboard after an official called Hefner for traveling.

Costa Mesa couldn't afford to miss easy points, not when Laguna Beach went on to score the next eight points.

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