The successes came in many forms for the Costa Mesa girls’ basketball team against Villa Park Thursday night in the Costa Mesa tournament final.
For Mustang guard Jenny Earnest, it was scoring. For point guard Nancy Hatsushi, it was penetrating. For center Autumn Smith, it was inside defense.
And for Coach Jim Weeks, it was a pen.
It all added up to a 54-42 victory for Costa Mesa, which won its own tournament for the first time in Weeks’ 18-year tenure.
Weeks finally gets to keep the pen set annually awarded to the winning coach of the tournament.
“It’s nice to be able to keep the pen,” Weeks said. “All these years I’ve been the one giving it away.”
Earnest scored 21 points for the Mustangs (10-4) who trailed, 8-6, early in the game, but seized control by taking the ball inside during the second quarter. Hatsushi, named tournament MVP, effectively penetrated and scored eight of her 17 points in the quarter, lifting Costa Mesa to a 29-21 halftime lead.
Villa Park (7-8) switched to a zone in the second half, but Earnest, Hatsushi and Leigh Marshall took advantage with a long-range attack. The trio combined for four three-pointers, accounting for nearly half of the Mustangs’ 25 second-half points.
“We’ve got a good shooting team,” Weeks said. “We can usually find someone to get the job done.”
Smith’s job was pulling the reigns on Villa Park leading scorer Lauren Yadon, a 6-foot-2 center who averages 18 points. Yadon had only four points at halftime, eight through three quarters and finished with 15.
Weeks said the victory is just one small step toward attaining his desired level of play.
“Every time we win a game, we believe in ourselves a little more,” he said. “But our expectations also go up as we rise as a team. As soon as we accept where we are, we’re done.”