Slow start hurts Eagles

COSTA MESA — One of Estancia High's top scorers sat for the first 12 minutes of a nonleague boys' basketball game Tuesday night. Davon Joyner violated a team rule the day before the Eagles hosted San Clemente.

"If you don't practice, you don't [start]," Coach Agustin Heredia said. "[Joyner] showed up [to practice]. He just didn't practice. He said he was hurt."

Joyner's absence from the starting lineup hurt the Eagles right away. They trailed, 12-0, in the first three and a half minutes, missing five shots and turning the ball over four times during the stretch.

Joyner, wearing his warm-ups, looked on from the middle of the bench. When he got his first chance to enter the game, the contest appeared over with the Tritons going up by as many as 20 points.

Estancia made a run in the second half, cutting the deficit to five points with 5:27 left to play. The comeback ended after the Eagles reverted to their sloppy play in the first half, allowing San Clemente to win, 61-45.

"That's been us in a nutshell, just kind of slow starts," said Heredia, whose team went five of 21 from the floor in the first half. "We had it down to five there at the end. Silly turnovers there and we just kind of fell apart."

The Eagles (5-6) have until Monday to regroup. They return to the same gym for the 26th annual Estancia Coast Classic.

Estancia plays in the late game against Mercer Island of Washington at 7:45 p.m. The Eagles are playing a team coming off its first loss after Mercer Island started the season 5-0.

"If we don't improve, we're going to get our butts kicked," Heredia said. "[The Islanders are] pretty good.

"It's a tough [four-day, 16-team] tournament. The last two years we've only won one game."

Estancia is a relatively young team. Three sophomores started against San Clemente (6-5) and the Tritons took advantage of the inexperience.

San Clemente ran when it wanted, easily converting fast-break opportunities. At one point in the second quarter, Heredia yelled at his Eagles after they failed to get back on transition after a missed jumper.

Heredia quickly called a timeout after watching Hank Gillebaard burn the Eagles' defense with a layup. Gillebaard finished with a game-high 21 points, 16 coming in the first half.

Estancia slowed the senior guard down the rest of the way. Keeping Gillebaard in check allowed the Eagles to close out the third quarter on a 12-0 run.

Heading into the final eight minutes, San Clemente's lead was just nine. Estancia started the fourth on a 5-1 spurt, thanks to three points by Ray Holmes, who led the Eagles with 20 points.

A jumper by Holmes cut the Tritons' lead to 45-40. The Eagles appeared as if they were on the verge of taking their first lead of the game.

San Clemente, looking for its first field goal in almost nine minutes, responded. The last player to score a basket for the Tritons did so again.

Jake Jessup took an inbound pass in the paint and converted underneath the rim, sparking a 10-0 run to push San Clemente's advantage to 15 points. No one from Estancia was able to knock down a shot for nearly two minutes, as the Tritons were on their way to snapping a three-game skid.

"Ray is getting his points, and Davon [usually gets his] points," said Heredia, who saw Joyner finish with four points. "We're struggling to find a third scorer."

*

Nonleague

San Clemente 61, Estancia 45

SCORE BY QUARTERS

San Clemente 20 15 9 17 — 61

Estancia 4 11 20 10 — 45

SC — Gillebaard 21, Kubly 11, Bailey 10, Jessup 10, Tuten 5, Johnson 2, Lacebal 2.

3-pt. goals — Gillebaard 1.

Fouled out — None.

Technicals – None.

E — Holmes 20, Umansky 8, Beck 7, Fackler 6, Joyner 4.

3-pt. goals — Holmes 3, Fackler 2, Umansky 1.

Fouled out — Umansky.

Technicals — None.

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