Esperanza Girls Clinch Sunset Title


Esperanza earned the No. 1 ranking in Orange County because of its balance, but it was the singular performance of Bethany Blair on Thursday that delivered a Sunset League title.

Blair scored 25 points, provided outstanding defense and led visiting Esperanza to a 58-51 victory over No. 7 Huntington Beach.

“She killed us,” Oiler Coach Bill Thomson said after Blair made 11 of 16 shots, including four of five in the decisive third quarter and seven of nine in the second half.


“I wish I had played better defense,” said Blair, who nevertheless held Kelsey Ball to 14 points--six through three quarters--and five rebounds, and made a key third-quarter steal and basket in a 37-second span to break the game open.

The Aztecs were ahead, 29-27, before Laura Jacobson scored consecutive baskets, and Blair picked off an inbounds pass and scored off one of her eight rebounds to push the lead to eight. Esperanza stretched the lead to 11 before the quarter ended. Huntington Beach never got closer than four points.

“I think she’s one of the most underrated defensive players in the county,” said Esperanza Coach Marc Hill. Blair got a lot of defensive help from guards Lindsay Helvey, Tina Kalogeropoulos and Ashley Van Kurin, who also scored 11 and had eight rebounds.

“We didn’t do a good job of running our offense, but that was attributable to them,” Thomson said. “Blair made Ball take some tough shots.”

Huntington Beach made 18 of 49 shot attempts (36.7%). Amy Sanders, a 46.5% shooter, was five for 17 and scored a team-high 17. Ball was five for 14.

Esperanza is 21-4 overall, 8-0 in league. With two games to play, the Aztecs have a four-game lead over Huntington Beach (13-10, 4-4), Marina (13-11, 4-4) and Edison (16-8, 4-4). Marina got 17 points from Miranda Emde to upset No. 8 Edison, 35-30.