Senior JJ Gray shoots a three-pointer. (Photo by Kailyn Huynh)


Boys’ basketball stages late comeback against Laguna Beach Breakers

<a href="" target="_self">Shayan Abbasi</a>

Shayan Abbasi

February 24, 2023
Fountain Valley boys’ basketball won 73-59 over the Laguna Beach Breakers on Jan. 4. Starting the game off rather slow and missing several shots, Fountain Valley turned it around in the 3rd quarter, thanks to a newfound defensive determination that translated into easy buckets on the other side of the court. Senior JJ Gray finished with 27 points and sophomore Parker Rodriguez scored 18 points, leading the way for Fountain Valley.

The game commenced with Fountain Valley taking possession after the opening tip off. However, Laguna Beach took advantage and scored the opening points of the game, a corner three. Fountain Valley then answered emphatically with a three pointer of their own, scored by Gray in a play that resulted from securing the offensive rebound off a missed free throw.

A few moments later, Rodriguez hit a three-pointer from the wing, assisted by Gray. Gray continued his hot start, recovering the rebound from a missed Laguna Beach lay up and pushing the ball up the floor, sinking in a deep three.

Though Fountain Valley led 9-5 early on in the first, this quality start would not last long, as Laguna Beach went on to score four unanswered points. The Barons cut into the Breakers’ lead with a lay-up by sophomore Aaron De Santiago, but still finished the quarter trailing 13-16. 

Laguna Beach opened the scoring in the second quarter with a three-pointer, but Gray answered with a bank shot jumper and a three-pointer. Though Laguna Beach went on to make two more lay-ups and took free throws, the team had trouble containing Gray. After getting an offensive rebound, Gray went back up for a bank shot, cutting the lead to two and forcing the Breakers to call a timeout. 

Senior JJ Gray drives and attempts to make a layup. (Photo by Kailyn Huynh)

Laguna Beach emerged from the timeout with a fire, sinking two three-pointers and a jumper to increase their lead to seven points. Even though Laguna Beach went over the foul limit, committing more than seven fouls in the first half, their lead remained throughout the quarter. This was in part due to good ball movement, and the first half ended 29-36 in favor of the Breakers. 

The Barons found their stroke after an unassuming second quarter, thanks to a three-pointer by Rodriguez and a fadeaway by Gray, cutting the Breaker lead to four points. After a missed attempt from a breaker, sophomore Devin Payne secured the rebound and launched into a fast break, culminating in an open lay-up by sophomore Troy Leach. Throughout the third quarter, Fountain Valley dominated the game, from clamping the brakes on the defensive end to taking care of business on transition offense. 

The Barons went on to stage a late comeback. Leach gave an inbound pass to senior Fernando Garcia, who muscled his way into the post for an and-one play. Though Garcia missed the free throw, he got his own rebound and kicked out the ball to Gray, who then hit an open jumper to tie the game. Shortly after this, Gray stole a wayward Laguna Beach pass and made a pull up three, increasing the Baron lead to five. Fountain Valley kept up their hot start, ending the quarter 53-45. 

Senior Ethan Huynh shoots a mid-range shot. (Photo by Kailyn Huynh)

“The second half we played really good defense and shot the ball much like we normally do because we’re a really good shooting team,” head coach Roger Holmes said. “Those two things together helped us come back and get the win.”

The fourth quarter commenced with Laguna Beach converting a lay-up and cutting into the lead. While Fountain Valley’s defense held its own and forced turnovers and bad shot selections, offensive efficiency proved to be the deciding factor. With 6:33 remaining in the final quarter, Gray drove into the lane, drawing in the defense and kicking the ball out to Rodriguez for a corner three-pointer that he was fouled on.

After the four-point-play, the Baron lead grew to 10. The two teams continued trading baskets, but Fountain Valley was able to close out the game and claim a 73-59 victory. 

“We’re 14 [wins] and five [losses], which is ranked number 16 in the county. It’s a good place where we’ve got to with the group so far, so we’re excited to keep on playing,” Holmes said.

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