SANTA ANA - The Estancia High girls basketball team often resembles
an impetuous child. The Eagles are seemingly always trying to see how
close they can come to disaster, before making things turn out fine in
Friday night was another case in point, as the Eagles stumbled and
stuttered against nonleague host Century for three periods, before
securing a 53-46 triumph that, once again, left Coach Paul Kirby
scratching his head.
"We were getting outhustled (early) and I think we were intimidated,"
Kirby said. "But we did enough good things to overcome our mistakes."
Those mistakes were plentiful before the final quarter, as the Eagles
amassed 23 turnovers in the first 24 minutes, though still managing to
hold a 30-28 lead, heading into the final quarter.
But, with foul-plagued sophomore point guard Trisha Wase back in
control and junior frontcourt standouts Xochitl Byfield and Tisha Gray
continuing to shine, the Eagles displayed some inspired execution down
the stretch to win going away.
The Eagles, converting in transition, working inbounds plays to
perfection and missing only 3 of 13 fourth-quarter field-goal attempts,
improved to 7-9 heading into Tuesday night's Pacific Coast League opener
The scrappy Centurions dropped to 7-8.
"We're going to have to play a lot better than that in league," Kirby
said. "We won't win league games when we make the amount of mistakes (27
turnovers) we made tonight."
Thanks to some strong defense and a pair of three-pointers, one each
by Wase and senior Marie Rodriguez, the Eagles claimed an 11-5 lead
through one period.
Century, however, nailed back-to-back three-pointers to key an 8-0 run
that allowed them to pull even at halftime, 18-18.
Estancia started strongly in the second half, scoring the first five
points and netting 5 of 8 field-goal tries in the period.
But Century, taking advantage of 10 Eagle turnovers, largely
attributed to the absence of Wase, whom Kirby preferred to sit, rather
than risk picking up a fourth foul, stayed close.
Century surged ahead, 33-32, on Maria Orozco's 32-foot three-pointer
with 6:24 remaining, but Rodriguez countered with a bull's eye from
beyond the arc, her third three-pointer, with 5:45 left to give the
Eagles a 35-33 edge.
Three Century free throws erased the lead, but Wase, Byfield and Gray
keyed a 9-0 Estancia run that created an insurmountable lead.
Wase found Byfield for a layup with 4:40 left to start the sequence,
then Gray converted a Crystal Mino assist for another layup 39 seconds
Wase, inbounding from near halfcourt after a timeout, found Byfield
open in the corner and she connected for her second three-pointer of the
game to put the Eagles up, 42-36, with 3:29 left.
Gray, who collected a game-high 17 rebounds, then turned another Wase
assist, one of her seven in the period, into a layup, rendering the final
3:13 virtual garbage time.
"That Byfield three-pointer was real big," Kirby said. "That gave us a
Century netted 4 of 4 foul shots and a pair of three-pointers down the
stretch, but Wase, Byfield and Gray combined for nine more points to give
the Eagles a two-game winning streak.
Byfield finished with 16 points and eight rebounds, while Wase added
eight points to her seven assists.
Gray finished with 10 points and also chipped in two steals and two
"(Wase) makes smart decisions for us and that made a big difference in
the fourth quarter," Kirby said. "She really knows our options on our
Kirby was also very complimentary of Gray, who had 12 first-half
rebounds and made the paint Estancia territory on both ends.
Sophomore center Nancy Castro had 10 points (5 of 7 from the field) to
help the Eagles finish 22 of 43 (51%).
Century had six of its 13 turnovers in the fourth quarter, when it
made just 4 of 12 field-goal attempts.
Estancia 53, Century 46
Score by Quarters
Estancia 11 7 12 23 - 53
Century 5 13 10 18 - 46
Estancia - Byfield 16, Castro 10, Gray 10, Wase 8, Mino 0, Rodriguez
9, Pena 0.
3-pt. goals - Rodriguez 3, Byfield 2, Wase 1.
Fouled out - none.
Technicals - none.
Century - Marin 8, Choy 3, Beltran 4, Orozco 19, Nungaray 10, Autele
3-pt. goals - Nungaray 3, Orozco 3.
Fouled out - Autele.
Technicals - none.