Tim O’Brien, Estancia High School basketball coach, could hardly watch the final 25 seconds of the Eagles’ Pacific Coast League opener against Laguna Beach Wednesday.
O’Brien’s leading scorer, Matt Fuerbringer, had fouled out. And Laguna Beach’s dangerous shooting guard, Josh Borella, had the ball and was ready to erase the Eagles’ two-point lead.
But Borella missed a spinning, left-handed layup with 21 seconds remaining, and Torrey Hammond pulled down the rebound to preserve Estancia’s 70-67 victory at the Laguna Beach gym.
“It’s a bad scene any time he has the ball,” O’Brien said of Borella, who entered the game averaging 29.5 points.
Estancia, ranked ninth in Orange County, improved to 12-4 and 1-0 in league play. Unranked Laguna Beach dropped to 9-7.
Estancia built a 42-34 halftime lead without three regulars--seniors Jeff Hokanson, Son Ly and Tim Pieper. O’Brien had suspended five players in the first half for missing curfew, and senior Mike Haas sat out the game for undisclosed violations.
“We have a severe case of senioritis,” O’Brien said. “And it’s not even spring yet.”
With the seniors on the bench, Fuerbringer, a junior and the only underclassman on the varsity, scored 20 of his 25 points in the first half.
But Laguna Beach shut down Fuerbringer in the second half and began cutting into the lead.
Borella, who scored 13 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter, made one of two free throws with 1 minute 11 seconds remaining to trim the deficit to 69-67.
Laguna Beach got the ball back with 30 seconds left when Hammond was called for traveling. Borella then missed the layup.
“That last one was a little off-balance,” Laguna Beach Coach Bret Fleming said. “I would have liked to see him kick the ball back out.
“He had a tough night from the free-throw line (15-21), which is unusual for him. It wasn’t a typical Borella game.”
Hokanson, who came off the bench to score nine second-half points, made the first of two free throws with 13 seconds remaining to make the score 70-67. He rebounded his own miss on the second attempt and ran out the clock.
Paul McDaniels scored 14 points and Hammond added 10 for Estancia.
Trabuco Hills 69, Costa Mesa 68--The Mustangs rallied from an early 11-point deficit at Costa Mesa. Pat Barnes scored 16 points for Trabuco Hills (2-11, 1-0). Jeff Pickens scored 23 points for Costa Mesa (3-11, 0-1).