Rivalry games get a boost when playoff positioning is in play.
It may seem that it is never too early to discuss the postseason, especially once the league schedule rolls around.
Rivals Costa Mesa and Estancia entered Tuesday night with identical 1-1 records to begin the Orange Coast League girls’ basketball slate.
Tarah Harmon gave the Mustangs the edge, supplying 18 points and 11 rebounds, as host Costa Mesa defeated Estancia 41-24 in the first meeting in the Battle for the Bell series this season.
“It feels good to win again with all the team energy that we had,” Harmon said. “We just came out to play, we played like a team, and we felt like we were going to win, so that’s what we did.”
Mary Anna Bijanjan added 11 points, four rebounds, four steals and three assists for the Mustangs.
Costa Mesa (4-8, 2-1 in league) came off Thursday’s 34-27 loss at home to Calvary Chapel, which compelled Mustangs coach Jason Barfield to tell his team that it takes four quarters of effort to win a basketball game.
Barfield said that his team had shown a greater sense of urgency when playing from behind, something that the Mustangs never had to do on Tuesday.
“Points in the [Battle for the] Bell matter,” Barfield said. “Every win matters for seeding in the playoffs, and they knew it. They knew that this was a must-win [game].”
The Mustangs got back-to-back three-pointers from Harmon and Amy Martinez, both from the right wing, as part of a 10-0 run. At the end of it, Costa Mesa had built a 12-2 lead midway through the first quarter.
Lorelei Hobbis made her presence felt as a lengthy defender in the post. She also made the Eagles pay for fouling her when she got the ball on the offensive end, converting five of six free throws in the first half.
Hobbis finished with five points, nine rebounds, three steals and two blocked shots. Roselynn Madriaga had four points, four rebounds and two assists. Lesly Marin had two assists on stretch passes in transition to help the Mustangs break away in the fourth quarter.
The Eagles continued to compete down two starters in the second half. Estancia forward Mackenzie Sanchez suffered a right knee injury in the second quarter and did not return. Center Melia Kenneth also exited after sustaining a bloody nose underneath the basket in the third quarter.
Still, Estancia (3-18, 1-2) managed to score 12 points in the third quarter, more than doubling its total at the half. Brianna Rios was a key contributor, scoring eight points while drawing as many free-throw attempts in the period.
Rios finished with eight points, 10 rebounds and two assists. Elisa Hernandez also had three points, eight rebounds, two steals and a block. Kenneth added eight rebounds for the Eagles.
Orange Coast League
Costa Mesa 41, Estancia 24
Estancia 5 – 5 – 12 – 2 — 24
Costa Mesa 14 – 11 – 9 – 7 — 41
E – Rios 8, Meza 4, Sandoval 4, Arriaga 3, Hernandez 3, Espinoza-Sanchez 2.
3-pt. goals – Rios 1, Arriaga 1.
Fouled out – Hernandez.
Technicals – None.
CM – Harmon 18, Bijanjan 11, Hobbis 5, Madriaga 4, Martinez 3.
3-pt. goals – Martinez 1, Harmon 1.
Fouled out – Martinez.
Technicals – None.
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