Rick Swanwick took just three shots and scored two points in the first half and Trabuco Hills High School still led Estancia by nine points at halftime Wednesday night.
Swanwick, a 6-foot-10 center for Trabuco Hills, averages 20.3 points a game and chances seemed remote that he would reach that total at the pace he was going.
And, at least in Trabuco Hills Coach Rainer Wulf's mind, there wasn't much chance the Mustangs would win the Southern Section 3-A quarterfinal game at Corona del Mar.
Wulf told his team in no uncertain terms: Get the ball to Swanwick or risk getting bounced from the playoffs.
The Mustangs listened, Swanwick became the focal point of the offense and they held off Estancia for a 75-71 victory.
Trabuco Hills (20-6) advances to the semifinal round Friday to meet San Luis Obispo at a site to be determined by a coin flip today. Estancia ends its season 21-6.
"We were up nine at the half and made some bonehead plays," Wulf said.
The most noteable was that Trabuco Hills didn't exploit a decided height advantage. Swanwick towered over the Estancia players, the tallest of whom is 6-3 Tim Kjar.
"Once we decided to stop eliminating Swanwick from the offense he was able to show that he is the dominant big player around," Wulf said.
Swanwick finished with a team-high 27 points and scored 15 of the Mustangs' 18 points in the third quarter. Indeed, Trabuco Hills needed everything Swanwick could contribute in the second half to hold off the Eagles.
Estancia, which started slowly, finally hit stride near the end of the third quarter and nearly rallied for the victory. The Eagles cut the lead to 63-62 with 2:38 left in the game.
But near-perfect free-throw shooting by Trabuco Hills down the stretch kept Estancia from winning. Guard Tim Manning was six for six at the line and Chad Poulos two for two.
Augustin Heredia and Mike Curtis, Estancia's guards, almost helped the undersized Eagles win by themselves. Heredia had 33 points and Curtis 32 in what amounted to a two-man scoring show. Only two other Eagles scored. Kjar added four points and Paul McDaniel two.
Heredia, 5-11, and Curtis, 6-1, scored their points on a variety of drives and a number of long-range jump shots.
The two were instrumental in rallying Estancia in the third quarter. Trailing, 45-35, Curtis made back-to-back three-pointers.
After Swanwick scored, Curtis added a three-point play on a basket and a free throw. Heredia followed with another three-pointer and Estancia trailed, 47-44.