Costa Mesa boys’ basketball alone in first place after win at rival Estancia


Estancia High boys’ basketball coach Xavier Castellano pleaded for a timeout in the fourth quarter, as Jaycen Cash hustled to try to get a rebound.

Cash has the ball in his hands a lot as the quarterback for the Estancia football team. In Wednesday night’s basketball game, though, the referee ruled that Cash didn’t have possession during a scrum under the Eagles’ basket. No timeout would be awarded.

“He doesn’t have the ball,” Costa Mesa coach Mike Ofer said. “He can’t call timeout!”

Castellano turned to Ofer.

“Why not?” he asked with a smile on his face.

Ofer also smiled, and he had reason to do so. The Mustangs were in the better position on the scoreboard.

Costa Mesa was on its way to earning a 71-56 win at rival Estancia in the first Battle for the Bell game, taking over outright first place in the Orange Coast League.

Senior guard Osman Hefner had 21 points and senior guard Tre Villalpando added 20 points for Costa Mesa (8-10, 3-0 in league), which has never won an outright league title and shared a league title just twice, most recently in the Golden West League in 2005-06.

Costa Mesa High's Tre Villalpando (5) and George Williamson (35) celebrate a last-second shot to close out the first half of an Orange Coast League game at Estancia on Wednesday.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

“We have a target on our back, being the favorite for this league,” Villalpando said. “We’re playing how we should and we’re winning games that we should … We’re just trying to do something our school has never done before.”

Ofer said that standout senior guard Nico Dasca, the third team captain along with Hefner and Villalpando, returned from a nine-game absence due to a back injury. Dasca scored eight points before exiting with 27 seconds left in the fourth quarter with what Ofer said was just cramping in his right leg.

“The cramping is probably just a little bit of a coming back and trying to play the whole game type of thing,” Ofer said. “We missed him. It’s nice to have him back.”

Estancia (11-10, 2-1) led 29-21 midway through the second quarter after a putback by junior forward Jake Covey, who finished with game-high totals of 22 points and 14 rebounds.

But Costa Mesa ended the first half on a 22-4 run, taking a 43-33 halftime advantage. Estancia did not get closer than eight points in the second half.

Nico, Osman, Tre are three guys that a really good, and Gio stepped up big time for them. We just can’t make that many mistakes against a good team like that.

— Xavier Castellano, Estancia High coach

Hefner and Dasca each had four steals for Costa Mesa.

Sophomore guard Gio Quero was another key contributor for the Mustangs, with 14 points. Quero hit four three-pointers in the first half.

“First of all, I tip my hat to Estancia,” Ofer said. “[Castellano] had them prepared, and they played their hearts out tonight. They played really well. They had us on the ropes, and I think that run we went on really gave us some momentum … That run at the end of the first half was really the difference for us.”

Hefner made just one of his first nine shots but he heated up after halftime, when he scored 13 of his 21 points. He finished nine of 24 from the field.

“We know when he’s not shooting well, he’s just got to keep shooting and he’s going to find it,” Villalpando said.

Senior guard Mason Richards scored 20 for Estancia, including six three-pointers. Castellano said that the Eagles played well for “about a quarter and a half.”

Costa Mesa plays at Saddleback on Friday at 7 p.m., while Estancia is at Orange.

“Hey, [the Mustangs] are a good team,” said Castellano, whose team fell into a tie for second in the league with Santa Ana. “Nico, Osman, Tre are three guys that a really good, and Gio stepped up big time for them. We just can’t make that many mistakes against a good team like that.”

Estancia High's Jake Covey rebounds the ball away from Costa Mesa's Ethan Elliott during an Orange Coast League game on Wednesday.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

Orange Coast League

Costa Mesa 71, Estancia 56


Costa Mesa 19 – 24 – 12 – 16 — 71

Estancia 16 – 17 – 12 – 11 — 56

CM –Hefner 21, Villalpando 20, Quero 14, Dasca 8, Williamson 5, Elliott 3.

3-pt. goals – Quero 4, Hefner 1.

Fouled out – None.

Technicals – None.

E –Covey 22, Richards 20, Ju. Cash 6, Ja. Cash 3, Harry 3, Graham 2.

3-pt. goals – Richards 6, Harry 1.

Fouled out – None.

Technicals – None.

Twitter: @mjszabo