Girls basketball: Eagles outlast Century

Barry Faulkner

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

the end.

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

at Northwood.

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

later.

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

little cushion."

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

blocked shots.

"(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

inbounds plays."

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.

NONLEAGUE

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

2.

3-pt. goals - Nungaray 3, Orozco 3.

Fouled out - Autele.

Technicals - none.

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