Coby Naess played his best game in Laguna Beach High School's biggest game thus far this season and because of it, the Artists continue to hold onto the third and final playoff spot in the Sea View League.
Naess scored 35 points and had 11 rebounds Wednesday night to lead Laguna Beach to a decisive 80-68 victory over Saddleback in a Sea View League game at Laguna Beach.
Before the game, Saddleback was one of three, fourth-place teams challenging the Artists for the last playoff spot.
But Laguna Beach (7-4, 13-8) still is in sole possession of third place, two games ahead of Saddleback, Estancia and University.
It was the Naess' play that carried the Artists past Saddleback and Cal-bound guard, Bryant Walton, who scored 28 points.
"Coby and Walton are alike," said Ed Bowen, Laguna Beach coach. "You just can't stop either one. They both love to play the game and can shoot. We threw two guys at Walton and he still scored, what, 28? Most of those were on long range shots, too."
Naess, the Artists' 6-foot 6-inch senior center, scored most of his points from inside, especially in the second half.
Laguna Beach spread out its offense, waited for the defense to come to the ball, and then fed Naess at the post, who went one-on-one with the player left to guard him.
"We had enough of the lead where we could afford to do that," Bowen said. "They had to send four guys after the ball because they were behind and that left Naess one-on-one."
Despite Naess' point total, Wednesday's game was hardly a one-man show. Forward Scott Herdman scored 20 points, mostly on outside shooting, and guard Billy Elfsten added 20, with many of those coming on fast breaks.
Joe Deal scored 18 points and Steve Ontiveros added 10 for the Roadrunners, whose record fell to 5-6 and 10-11.
SADDLEBACK (68)--Ontiveros 10, M. Butler 6, Dottin 2, Walton 28, Hanson 2, Campbell 2, Deal 18.
LAGUNA BEACH (80)--Naess 35, Fortune 2, Elfsten 20, Herdman 23.
Corona del Mar 98, University 68--The Sea Kings took an insurmountable 52-26 halftime lead at Corona del Mar. Tod Bearbower and Jeff Fryer scored 19 points, and Tim Christiansen had 12 rebounds. Bearbower also had nine assists. The Trojans were led by Steve Stolzoff's 14 points and Eric Olin's 12.
UNIVERSITY (68)--Olin 12, Glassen 10, Stolzoff 14, Ferrell 6, Allton 8, Kiskis 5, Gorzkowski 9, Beaumont 4.
CORONA DEL MAR (98)--Fryer 19, Turner 7, Christiansen 4, Bearbower 19, Green 11, McGrath 10, O'Neil 4, Muller-Stach 8, Morris 7, Hook 4, Frazier 1, Boatman 2, Nesselrod 2.
Newport Harbor 53, Estancia 52--John Richards made the second of two free throws with no time left to lift the Sailors over the Eagles at Newport Harbor. The Sailors, who committed 8 of their 11 turnovers in the second quarter, did not lead in the second half until Richards made his free throw. Wes Torell grabbed 11 rebounds and Mark Craig had 9 rebounds for Newport Harbor.
ESTANCIA (52)--Mooney 6, Covey 13, Tift 13, Trejo 10, Rusick 4, Pinckney 2, Barkley 4.
NEWPORT HARBOR (53)--Lee 7, Richards 8, M. Craig 14, Alstrom 8, Torell 6, S. Craig 1, Geerlings 9.
Woodbridge 72, Costa Mesa 49--Vince Bryan scored 18 points and Adam Keefe added 16 as the Warriors won at Costa Mesa. The Warriors took a 13-point lead at the half. Woodbridge (8-3, 19-5) plays at Corona del Mar Friday in a game for first place. Costa Mesa's record fell to 0-11 and 1-17.