Girls basketball: Mesa back in the hunt

Barry Faulkner

CORONA DEL MAR - It was too little too late for host Corona del Mar

High Thursday night, but by earning a 46-42 Pacific Coast League girls

basketball victory, Costa Mesa may have averted saying the same about its

quest for a berth into the CIF Southern Section playoffs.

"We're still fighting for third," said Mesa Coach Jim Weeks, whose

Mustangs improved to 7-12, 1-3 in the PCL. "We're still in the hunt for a

playoff spot. We would have hated to have had to give up the season."

The Sea Kings (6-12, 1-3) never gave up, paring a 38-22 deficit with

6:46 left to 45-42 on a Kelliann Klein three-pointer with 47 seconds

left.

The Sea Kings let 17 seconds elapse before sending Mesa junior Rhondi

Naff to the line, where she hit the second of two foul shots to up the

lead to four.

Madison Otterbein netted a free throw to get CdM back within three,

but the rebound on her second, an intentional miss, caromed to Mesa's

Jasmine Grewal in the corner.

Grewal hit her first free throw to finalize the scoring and Mesa

sealed the deal when Eileen Bello blocked a 14-foot jumper and Christine

Caron gathered in the rebound as time expired.

"When you haven't won a league game yet, it can be a struggle to

finish one off," Weeks said. "We had spurts tonight, but CdM made some

big three-pointers down the stretch to stay in it."

Costa Mesa, riddled with shooting woes in its first three league

games, finally won the field-goal percentage battle against the Sea

Kings.

After hitting 3 of 9 from the field in the first quarter, CdM was 1 of

10 in the second period, then 1 of 17 in the third, including misses on

its first 14 field-goal attempts after halftime.

Mesa, which scored in double figures in every period, pushed the lead

to 34-21 after three quarters. But the Mustangs had just enough. Mesa

wound up connecting on 14 of 45 from the field (31.1%) and also netted 14

of 28 free throws.

With seven fourth-quarter field goals, two more than it totaled the

first three periods, CdM wound up 12 of 51 from the field (25.5%) after

entering the final quarter at just less than 14%.

CdM wasn't much better from the foul line, connecting on 15 of 33

(45.5%).

CdM did win the turnover battle, committing two fewer than Mesa's 16,

though the Mustangs won the rebound battle, 45-40.

Four different CdM players contributed to an 8-0 run after Mesa led by

a game-high 16 and three-pointers by Andrea Gruber and Klein helped the

hosts post a 10-1 run later in the fourth period.

But CdM Coach Elbert Davis, whose lineup was missing four starters due

to injury, was not heartened by the comeback.

"It's the same old thing and it's getting old," Davis said. "We played

hard, but that's expected. We play harder in one half than another, or we

wait until we're down by 18. We could say if we'd only done this or that,

but it doesn't matter. And we could cry and say we had so and so our

injured, but someone has to step up. We had girls in mental Disneyland

tonight."

Naff, who came in averaging seven points in league, found a little

more room to operate against the Sea Kings. She finished with 15 points,

draining 6 of 9 from the field.

Bello chipped in 10 points, while several other Mustangs provided

quality minutes.

Caron collected a game-high nine rebounds, while six Mesa players

collected at least five boards.

Emotional leader Christina Poncher had seven points, while reserves

Stacee Sanchez, Cassey Brick and Grewal combined for nine points and 15

rebounds.

Senior center Lauren Carich had six rebounds and three points, before

leaving the game with a left ankle injury early in the fourth quarter.

Klein led CdM with 14 points, followed by Gruber with 10. Gruber also

had four rebounds and three steals.

Colleen Marks (six points and six rebounds), as well as sophomore Kate

Heeschen (four points, four rebounds, three steals and two assists.

GIRLS

PACIFIC COAST LEAGUE

Costa Mesa 46, Corona del Mar 42

Score by Quarters

Costa Mesa 12 10 12 12 - 46

Corona del Mar 9 5 7 21 - 42

Costa Mesa - Naff 15, Caron 2, Carich 3, Poncher 7, Bello 10, Brick 3,

Grewal 4, Sanchez 2, Akansel 0.

3-pt. goals - Poncher 1, Brick 1.

Fouled out - none.

Technicals - none.

Corona del Mar - Klein 14, Luu 2, Otterbein 4, Gruber 10, Alateha 0,

Marks 6, Heeschen 4, Ramsey 2, Stern 0, Dimas 0, Snell 0.

3-pt. goals - Gruber 2, Klein 1.

Fouled out - Luu.

Technicals - none.

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