LAGUNA BEACH — With the way the Los Angeles Lakers are struggling, Estancia High girls' basketball co-coach Xavier Castellano has been getting a bit agitated.
As the losses pile up for the Lake Show, Castellano, a lifelong Lakers fan, at least had led the Estancia girls to a perfect record in the Orange Coast League.
But that is no longer the case.
Host Laguna Beach pulled away for a 43-37 victory Thursday night, handing the Eagles their first league loss and cutting their lead in league in half.
Estancia (14-8, 5-1 in league) now leads Laguna Beach (16-3, 4-2) by just a game with four games left. Godinez, the defending league champion, also is 4-2 in league.
Castellano said Estancia, ranked No. 9 in CIF Southern Section Division 3-A, played its worst game of the season Thursday.
"We didn't implement the game plan, and we seemed really tight," Castellano said. "Give them credit, they hit shots. We did what we wanted to do, we held Jackie [Cenan] to 10 points."
Cenan, the Breakers' star freshman who averages a league-best 19 points per game, had gone off for 30 points in the teams' first meeting, a 60-55 Estancia victory on Jan. 10. In the rematch she did score just 10, but that just opened the door for Laguna Beach junior center Jane Wallin.
Celebrating her 17th birthday, Wallin scored nine of her team-high 14 points in the fourth quarter. Estancia had trouble denying her the ball, particularly when senior center Gianna Jason, who had five points and 15 rebounds, fouled out midway through the quarter.
Jason picked up two fouls along the sideline in a 23-second span. The second, with 4:36 left in the game, was her fifth foul.
The Eagles' top scorer, junior guard Celia Duran, also fouled out with 3:25 to go. The Eagles were down by four points at the time and couldn't get closer.
"It's tough, because they're our leaders," Castellano said. "We rely on Celia a lot sometimes, and we're trying to change that. I think the girls defer to her a lot. Also with [Jason], being the defender and leader that she is ... you see what happens when she's out of the game. [But] we have to step up. We're a young group, and our immaturity showed tonight.
"We're not a one-man team, we haven't been all year. It just so happens that everyone had an off-night."
Estancia made just one of seven free throws in the fourth quarter, and seven of 16 for the game. The 37 points were a season-low for the Eagles.
Freshman Alexandra Lewis had a trio of three-pointers for Laguna Beach, which made history in its home gym. Orange Coast League scorekeeper Frank Aronoff said the Breakers set a program record with their 16th win. This is their 39th varsity season.
Last year Laguna Beach finished 0-18, but Coach Mark Lewis has led a strong freshman class in accomplishing big things. Lewis didn't mind just 10 points from Cenan, who aggravated a right ankle injury in the third quarter but returned to the game minutes later.
"I've preached this all along, I don't care who scores as long as we score," Lewis said. "One night it can be Jackie with 30, the next night she can have 12. Alexandra set the pace early tonight with her long shots, so they now had to be aware. It always had them on edge looking for that outside shot, which opened it up for Jane and Jackie. It was key to knock down a few of those outside shots, and I thought we handled their pressure a lot better than last time."
Duran led Estancia with 14 points. Freshman twins Maya and Nefertiti Van Den Heever each scored six points for the Eagles, who still control their own destiny in league. They play at Costa Mesa on Tuesday in the second Battle for the Bell game.
"We've just got to finish our business," Castellano said. "Our goal at the beginning of the year was to win league, try to get a home game in the playoffs. [Going] 10-0 [in league] is nice, don't get me wrong, but to do that is tough. I wasn't looking at that. Everyone else is, but we're just going to go one game at a time."
Orange Coast League
Laguna Beach 43, Estancia 37
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Est 9 – 12 – 8 – 8 — 37
LB 9 – 11 – 6 – 17 — 43
Est – Duran 14, M. Van Den Heever 6, N. Van Den Heever 6, Jason 5, Simmons 3, Herrera 2, Garcia 1.
3-pt. goals – Duran 2, Simmons 1.
Fouled out – Duran, Jason.
Technicals – None.
LB – Wallin 14, Cenan 10, Lewis 9, Humphries 6, Cecutti 4.
3-pt. goals – Lewis 3.
Fouled out – None.
Technicals – None.