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Costa Mesa Manages to Play Despite Loss

TIMES STAFF WRITER

In the end, the final score--Laguna Beach 76, Costa Mesa 54--meant little.

Friday’s Pacific Coast League game at Laguna Beach was the first game for the Mustangs since the funeral of their coach, Jason Ferguson, who died of cancer last Sunday.

“At first I thought [playing] would be the hardest thing I’d ever have to do in my life,” senior guard Mike Montoya said. “Since Sunday morning when he passed, it’s really been hard. But we’re all strong guys. Playing will help us get past it. After being cooped up in school, home and church, a change of scenery is what we need.”

Said senior guard Don Ogo: “After all the stress of the week--the funeral, finals--this was a good way to let it all go. We can play basketball and forget all else.

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“People will remember him. But unless you got to know him you wouldn’t really understand all that was about him. But we are grateful for everything that people have tried to do for him, and for us to help cope with what happened.”

Janice Foster, whose son, Joey, was at the hospital with Ferguson at the time of his death, said: “He had taught them well, and prepared them to deal with this.”

A poster with the name “Jason” was taped to the north gym walls. Some players had a patch with the initials “J.F.” on their jerseys.

Laguna Beach officials had planned a moment of silence, but were asked by Costa Mesa to wait until the end of the game.

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“We certainly do not want to do anything to take away their focus from the game,” Laguna Beach Coach Bret Fleming said. “Coach Ferguson was an example and role model for our kids, too. He taught us a lot about courage and integrity. I believe he is resting in peace. People will move on but they won’t forget him.”

At halftime it was announced that all the proceeds from Friday’s concessions would go to the Jason Ferguson fund.

In another league game:

Laguna Hills 61, Aliso Niguel 47--Center Matt Houser had 24 points and 11 rebounds and Mike Saglione had 17 points for Laguna Hills (14-7, 4-2).

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