Estancia High School's boys' basketball team was in trouble Friday night in its Southern Section 3-A second-round playoff game.
The Eagles had been unable to stop--or even slow down--Norte Vista's Mario Nave and were behind, 38-32, at halftime. Nava had scored 17 points in the first half.
Estancia Coach Tim O'Brien needed to stop Nava. He needed someone to play aggressive man-to-man defense. He needed . . . a pest.
Enter Augustin (Guty) Heredia. Exit Mario Nava.
"Guty is a little whip out on the court," O'Brien said. "He's a scrappy little kid . . . a pest."
Heredia, The Times' athlete of the week, held Nava scoreless in the third quarter. Heredia also scored 16 points, including two free throws with 9 seconds left that clinched the Eagles' 65-62 victory.
On Wednesday, Heredia scored 19 points in Estancia's 55-49 first-round victory over Foothill.
"On the high school level, if you have good guards, you'll be in every game," O'Brien said.
Heredia, a 5-foot-10 junior, and Mike Curtis team to give the Eagles a formidable backcourt. Curtis' main job is to score, while Heredia has many responsibilities.
He averages 15 points and 6.5 assists per game. But his defense made the difference Friday.
Although he was giving up 5 inches, Heredia was successful in denying Nava (6-3) the ball.
"I just chased him all over the court," Heredia said. "He got a little frustrated and started complaining to the referee."
Heredia's response was simple.
"I just shut my mouth and played him even harder," he said.
Heredia's performance was nothing unusual. He is almost always assigned to guard the opponent's best offensive player.
Against Tustin, he held the Tillers' leading scorer, Cheavly Ly, to five points.
"I like competing against the other team's big gun," Heredia said. "I get charged up shutting those guys down."
On offense, Heredia runs the show. He's in charge of getting the ball into the hands of Curtis, Tim Kjar and Paul McDaniel.
But late in the game, O'Brien wants the ball in Heredia's hands. Heredia is shooting 85% from the free-throw line.
"During the La Quinta tournament, Guty made 25 of 26 free throws," O'Brien said. "He was 20 of 20 in the fourth quarter of those (three) games."
And both those skills--defense and free throw shooting--were evident against Norte Vista.
Todd Norman of Ocean View scored 41 points in two games as the Seahawks advanced to the Southern Section 5-A basketball quarterfinals.
Brian Spratt of Corona del Mar scored 38 points in two games as the Sea Kings advanced to the 3-A basketball quarterfinals.
Rick Swanwick of Trabuco Hills scored 47 points in two games as the Mustangs advanced to the 3-A basketball quarterfinals.
Keith Walker of Brea-Olinda scored 64 points in two games as the Wildcats advanced to the 3-A basketball quarterfinals.
Estancia High School
Height, Weight, Class: 5-10, 135, Junior
Last Week: Heredia scored 35 points in two Southern Section 3-A playoff games. Against Norte Vista Friday, Heredia made two free throws with 9 seconds left to clinch the Eagles' 65-62 victory.
Season: Heredia is averaging 15 points and 6.5 assists per game.