Coach Xavier Castellano said the Estancia High boys’ basketball team got embarrassed the first time it played rival Costa Mesa last spring.
The Mustangs won by 33 points, enough of a margin for the eighth-year head coach to call it “a good whooping.” A loss like that would eat at any coach, but especially Castellano, who played point guard for the Eagles in the late 1990s.
Coming into Monday night’s first Battle for the Bell game of the current season, Castellano again knew the Eagles were the underdogs. Checking the scores against the two teams’ common Orange Coast League opponents would certainly suggest that.
It would take a full team effort for the Eagles to get the win, and effort is not something that Estancia lacks.
“My thing is, I just want them to play hard,” Castellano said. “Go play hard, keep it close, and it gives us a chance at the end. We had some shots fall tonight and our game plan went well. We might not be the most talented, but we play hard.”
Senior post player Lewis Tate had 19 points and 14 rebounds as Estancia earned a 52-44 home win, claiming the first Battle for the Bell game.
Junior Reef Johnson added 11 points for Estancia (16-7, 3-2 in league), which finds itself in third place in league as it hits the halfway point. Calvary Chapel (6-0 in league) appears to be running away with its second straight league title.
Sophomores Jaedon Hose-Shea and Peter Sanchez each contributed seven points for the Eagles, who got some separation in the third quarter after holding a tight 22-21 halftime advantage.
Estancia went on a 13-2 run, and it was indeed hard-earned. It included a block on defense by Johnson, one of his three for the game, leading to his layup on offense. Tate had two offensive rebounds before scoring a put-back with 1:20 left in the quarter, giving the Eagles a 38-28 lead.
Costa Mesa (6-15, 1-3) couldn’t get its deficit smaller than six points in the final frame. The Eagles made sure of that at the free-throw line, where they made 12 of 14 attempts in the fourth quarter.
Tate is the only senior starter for Estancia. He said he’s working back into game shape after the team took a nearly two-week break earlier this month due to COVID-19.
Tate admitted that he came into Monday’s game “kind of scared,” because he knew Costa Mesa was a good team.
“I didn’t have any positivity going into the game, but I wanted to go hard,” he said. “At the end, that’s what got us the win.”
Junior guards Christian Dasca and Josh Galamgam led the Mustangs with 12 points each. Galamgam hit two three-pointers off the bench, but they were rare highlights in a rough night shooting for Costa Mesa overall.
Other Costa Mesa players combined to make none of their 16 three-point attempts.
Senior guard Aiden Spallone had eight points for the Mustangs, who have a chance at redemption on Wednesday when they host Estancia in the second Battle for the Bell game. That quick turnaround time gives the Eagles not much time to relish Monday night’s win.
“It was ugly, and we wanted it to be ugly,” Castellano said. “It wasn’t very high-scoring, and our zone worked. I know that they’re going to make adjustments when we play them on Wednesday.”
Orange Coast League
Estancia 52, Costa Mesa 44
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Costa Mesa 11 – 10 – 9 – 14 — 44
Estancia 6 – 16 – 16 – 14 — 52
CM – Galamgam 12, Dasca 12, Spallone 8, Matian 6, Shipper 3, Beasha 2, Weinstein 1.
3-pt. goals – Galamgam 2.
Fouled out – Shipper, Spallone.
Technicals – None.
E – Tate 19, Johnson 11, Sanchez 7, Hose-Shea 7, De La O 6, Padilla 2.
3-pt. goals – Johnson 3, De La O 1, Sanchez 1.
Fouled out – None.
Technicals – None.
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