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Costa Mesa boys’ basketball sweeps Estancia, stays alive in Orange Coast League title race

The Costa Mesa boys' basketball team poses with the trophy after sweeping the Battle for the Bell with a win over Estancia.
The Costa Mesa boys’ basketball team poses with the trophy after sweeping the Battle for the Bell with a win over Estancia on Wednesday.
(Andrew Turner)
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A gutsy performance has the Costa Mesa High boys’ basketball team in position to make a run at the Orange Coast League crown.

Costa Mesa blew a 15-point second-half lead, but the Mustangs fought back for a 48-47 win over Estancia on Wednesday, capping a sweep of their Battle for the Bell rival with the road victory.

Senior shooting guard Aidan Ogo had 14 points to lead Costa Mesa (11-11, 6-2), which is at the .500 mark for the first time after opening the season with seven consecutive losses.

“We’re young,” Ogo said. “We were still trying to figure it out towards the beginning of the season, but we’re peaking at the right time.”

Run the table in its final four Orange Coast League games and Costa Mesa could do no worse than share second place in league. Calvary Chapel (14-8, 7-1) and St. Margaret’s (17-5, 7-1) are setting the pace. Costa Mesa split its home-and-home set with St. Margaret’s, and the Mustangs will have a chance to do the same when they host Calvary Chapel on Jan. 30.

Beyond winning the Battle for the Bell, Costa Mesa coach Jesse Mercado said he has been trying to keep his team’s focus on its long-term goals.

“The big picture is obviously trying to win league and make it to the playoffs,” Mercado said.

Costa Mesa comfortably defended its home court, 63-45, in the first meeting with Estancia on Dec. 16. With a 25-16 halftime lead, it appeared the Mustangs were following a similar game script.

After Estancia fell behind 35-20 on a layup by Riley Weinstein with 5:12 on the clock in the third quarter, junior point guard Jaedon Hose-Shea came alive. He had eight points the remainder of the period, and a blocked shot by Peter Sanchez on Garry Slone at the horn gave the Eagles more momentum going into the fourth quarter.

Raymundo Herrera’s baseline drive capped a run of eight unanswered points to open the final frame, giving Estancia a 42-40 lead with 4:36 left. After the score was tied twice more, the Eagles took advantage of a second-chance opportunity. Reef Johnson delivered a swing pass to Hose-Shea, who knocked down a three for a 47-44 lead with 2:40 to go.

Costa Mesa had the answer. Weinstein and Kembe Howerton went to work on the offensive glass, and Howerton made good on those efforts with a three-point play to make it 47-47 with 2:10 to go.

“We really needed that one,” Howerton said of the putback. “I was hoping it was going in, and it went in and I was happy. Then I got the and-one on top of that, and it was even better. I knocked down the free throw, and that’s just what we needed for our team.”

A Christian Dasca free throw with 1:21 to go proved to be the difference.

The game was delayed for several minutes prior to Estancia’s final offensive possession, as the officials discussed team fouls with the scorer’s table. When Hose-Shea, who had a game-high 20 points, was sent to the free-throw line in a one-and-one scenario, he missed the front end.

“If Jaedon doesn’t play the way he does, we’re not in that game,” Estancia coach Xavier Castellano said. “He felt terrible afterwards. … You feel terrible because you love this, and that’s a good thing, and it is going to hurt, but guess what? We play again on Friday.

“It’s either going to make you stronger and want to play this game more, or how are you going to react? I know he’s going to want to play more,” Castellano continued. “I know he’s going to be better for us as the season goes on. We’re trying to get to playoffs.”

Orange Coast League

Costa Mesa 48, Estancia 47

SCORE BY QUARTERS

Costa Mesa 17 – 8 – 15 – 8 48

Estancia 10 – 6 – 18 – 13 47

CM — Ogo 14, Howerton 9, Weinstein 9, Dasca 8, Galamgam 4, Rosas 2, Dunbar 2.

3-pt. goals — Ogo 4, Dasca 1.

Fouled out — None.

Technicals — Weinstein.

E — Hose-Shea 20, Johnson 9, Dodge 4, Steck 4, Herrera 4, Sanchez 4, De La O 2.

3-pt. goals — Hose-Shea 4.

Fouled out — Sanchez.

Technicals — None.

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