The next step in a historic season: LBHS Boys Basketball to face Twentynine Palms in Second Round of CIF Playoffs tonight at home

Led by six seniors and a standout freshman, the LBHS Boys Basketball team (26-3) has shattered just about every team record in school history this year, including the most regular season wins at 25. The team also went undefeated in league play.

After posting a decisive 63-47 victory over Santiago in their CIF Playoffs opener on Wednesday, the team will now face Twentynine Palms (21-8) in the Second Round of the CIF D3AA Playoffs tonight, Friday, Feb 16 at 7 p.m. at home.

Coach Bret Fleming, in his 23rd year as LBHS Boys Varsity Basketball coach, attributes this year’s historic run to “chemistry and defense”.

“I think it probably starts with chemistry. The kids generally really care about each other, they love each other and it shows. Everybody’s kind of learned what each other’s qualities are and how to play together, the teamwork and stuff. That type of thing really shows with the seniors,” said Fleming in an interview.

The “senior six” includes Blake Burzell, Charlie Rounaghi, Owen McMurray, Grady Morgan, Adam Armstrong, and Blake Lusk. A number of them have been playing together since grade school at Boys & Girls Club. And that, says Coach Fleming, has made the world of difference with this group. 

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Ali Rounaghi

Senior Blake Burzell has been known to “sky high” throughout the season

“I first met Charlie (Rounaghi) and Owen (McMurray) at my basketball camp when they were in third grade. They were two little kids that were just absolutely basketball crazy. They just loved it; they couldn’t get enough. I had a little bit of an inkling they were going to be varsity players one day.”

Burzell is averaging about 21 points per game and is leading the team in rebounds, and Charlie Rounaghi is second in the county in assists at 6.8 per game. “The thing that’s been so incredible about Charlie is he’s averaging about 4 1/2 assists to turnovers per game. He’s really been a key for us this year,” said Fleming.

The team also has four players averaging between eight and 11 points per game (Grady Morgan, Charlie Rounaghi, Owen McMurray, and freshman Nolan Naess), which makes them very well-rounded and difficult to defend.

Coach Fleming also commends senior Adam Armstrong for taking on the role as Sixth Man this year, after starting for the Breakers last year as a junior. “We felt like if he was going to come off the bench, we’d be so much stronger. Just being such a great teammate, he’s accepted that role and I think it’s made us a lot better.” 

The next step for the team in continuing its historic run comes tonight against a very athletic and physical team in Twentynine Palms. The Wildcats come in with a 21-8 record (9-1 in league play), despite losing their coach at the end of the year in a dramatic resignation.

Coach Fleming, who was up until about two a.m. studying film on Wednesday night, says he likes his team’s chances tonight. “I think we understand what we need to do to compete. I know the guys are really looking forward to it.”

On the sidelines, the community has also come out in record numbers to support the boys, says Barbara McMurray, whose son Owen is a senior on the team. “It’s so great to see the whole community coming out together to support the team. This is our Laguna.”

Show your Laguna pride by showing up tonight (Friday) at 7 p.m. at Dugger Gym.

--Shaena Stabler

LB Water Polo Foundation teams win first place in respective divisions at the Winterfest WP Tournament

Last weekend at the Winterfest 2018 Water Polo Tournament, Laguna Beach Water Polo Foundation teams won first place in their respective divisions. For division 10U Coed-Dylan Williams, 12U Boys-Riley Treister, 12U Girls-Emerson Hensley, 14U B Girls-Lexi Parness, and 14U A Girls-Genoa Rossi respectively were named as MVPs.

Submitted photo

10U Coed: (L-R) Coach Forest Holbrook, Brooke Schneider, Palmer MacBeth, Max Jakle, Dylan Williams (MVP), Santana DelCastillo, Lars Knepper, Coach Chad Beeler, Indiana Treister, Alexander Sarkis, Chloe O’Kane, Michelle Blunk, Sloane Quealy, Sayre Duran

Submitted photo

12U Boys: (L-R) Kaden Breaux, Coach Bryan Buhagiar, Eli Taub, Diego Audebert, Coach Gordon Pike, Riley Treister (MVP), Coach Rob Grayeli, Tyler Swensen, Logan Teeple, Gabe Lewis, Jack Farnel

Submitted photo

12U Girls: (L-R) Isabella Sarkis, Ava Knepper, Emerson Hensley (MVP), Claire Turner, Kara Carver, Coach Kelcie Ferreira, Sofia Umeda,
Estelle Karaba, Kaelyn Chism, Nina Rogers, Presley Jones, Cailin Mulvaney, Siena Jumani

Submitted photo

14U B Girls: 3rd row (L-R) Isabel Foley, Lexi Parness (MVP), Carly Rohrer, Isabel Griffin

2nd row (L-R) Marie Audebert, Eleanor Ramsey, Coach Bridgette Alvarez, Taylor Naughton, Mac Jenal, Lauren Smith, Jordan Schneider, Rebecca Storke, Emily Shabunov

1st row- Sara Block

Submitted photo

14U A Girls: Back row (L-R) Tasha Denny, Genoa Rossi (MVP), Charlotte Riches, Avery Montiel, Lauren Short, Lela McCarroll, Cleo Washer, Coach Rob Carver

Front row (L-R) Myha Pinto, London Boyd, Ava Houlahan, Hannah Carver

LBUSD Director of Special Education named 2018 Administrator of the Year for Orange County

Irene White, director of special education for the Laguna Beach Unified School District, was named 2018 Special Education Administrator of the Year by the Association of California School Administrators Region 17, which covers Orange County.

Click on photo for a larger image

Submitted Photo

Irene White and Luisa Mossa, school psychologist

ACSA is the largest umbrella organization for school leaders in the nation with Region 17 focused on serving educational leaders in the pursuit of equity and excellence to meet the diverse needs of all students in Orange County. One of ACSA’s priorities is to ensure that school leaders are recognized for their excellence and dedication to public education; administrators of the year are selected for their outstanding performance and achievement in their respective categories.

Click on photo for a larger image

Submitted Photo

Irene White and Board President Jan Vickers

“I am so proud that Irene was selected as the ACSA Special Education Administrator of the Year for our region,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Jason Viloria. He continued, “She deserves the recognition for her tireless efforts to support our students and staff in providing a supportive learning environment. She is focused on continuously improving our programs in LBUSD and I am privileged to work with such a great educator.” White was nominated by school psychologist, Luisa Mossa, and  surprised with the award announcement by Superintendent of Schools Dr. Jason Viloria, Board of Education President Jan Vickers, assistant superintendents, and staff.

Click on photo for a larger image

Submitted Photo

Irene and all her co-workers that are thrilled to see her recognition 

“I am truly honored by the recognition and excited about the work currently in progress in our District,” said Director of Special Education Irene White. “In the eleven years, I have worked in Laguna I have been fortunate to work alongside some of the most intelligent and committed administrators, support personnel, specialists and teachers. I personally take great pride in partnering with our site level staff and parents in creating successful programs and supports for our kids. My dedication to our schools remains strong and I am wholeheartedly committed to engage and lead our ongoing efforts in improving outcomes for students. I am grateful to be in Laguna,” she added. 

ACSA Region 17 will recognize all award recipients at the Orange County Administrators of the Year Banquet on May 7 in Irvine.

LBHS shines at Scholastic Surf Series Event #Four. Champions Kelly Smith, Jade Howsen and Kiko Nelsen


     The LBHS Surf team members were very strong today (Feb 11) at the Scholastic Surf Series Event #Four with several top finishes in the individual finals. Once again, it was a smaller than normal group, as many of available kids competed successfully in multiple divisions.

The day started out with team competition, and we were up against El Toro who had a limited team. It was mostly a chance for the Laguna surfers to get some good practice in before the individual competition began. We ended up taking a lopsided team win 62 to three.

Click on photo for larger image

Photo by Ellen Nelsen

Kiko Nelsen, first in longboard, third in shortboard

The Laguna surfers were on a roll, surfing well and progressing to the various finals. Our women continued to sweep the shortboard and longboard finals, going one and two. Kelly Smith took the shortboard win, followed by Claire Kelly in second. Jade Howsen took the longboard final with Maya Takabayashi taking second.

Our men were also very strong with multiple division finalists. Kiko Nelsen led the way, taking first in longboard and third in shortboard. Meanwhile, other impressive performances were put in by Lucas Jablon, taking fourth, followed by a first-time finalist Luca Elghanayan, who took fifth. Sam Nelsen rounded out the final in sixth and again took a sixth in longboard. Joseph Schenck was another surfer to do double duty and made the finals in longboard taking fifthoverall.

Click on photo for larger image

Photo by Ellen Nelsen

Shortboard winner Kelly Smith

The event was held at San Clemente pier under sunny skies and glassy small surf in the morning, but as the tide bottomed out for finals, it was tough to find decent waves.

The next Scholastic Surf Series event will be March 18, and the High School Championships will be April 21.

Thank you to the kids who participated and the parents, especially Ellen Nelsen for her support and great action shots!

Shaena Stabler is the Owner, Publisher & Editor.

Lynette Brasfield is our Features Editor.

Dianne Russell is our Associate Editor.

Maggi Henrikson is our Contributing Editor.

Michael Sterling is our Webmaster.

Katie Ford is our Ad Designer.

Alexis Amaradio, Barbara Diamond, Cameron Gillespie, Dennis McTighe, Diane Armitage, Laura Buckle, Marrie Stone, Samantha Washer and Suzie Harrison are staff writers and/or columnists.

Mary Hurlbut and Scott Brashier are the staff photographers.

Stacia Stabler is our Instagram Manager.

We all love Laguna and we love what we do.

Email: for questions about advertising


Email: with news releases, letters, etc.