Mesa's season is done

COSTA MESA — Costa Mesa High Coach Nichole Maddox rolled her eyes and then raised her arms in disbelief.

She had a hard time understanding why JSerra, leading by 21 points, called a timeout with less than two minutes left to play.

"Come on. Come on," Maddox said. "It's time to go."

Maddox knew the Mustangs were not going anywhere. They are staying put.

JSerra easily moved past the first round of the CIF Southern Section Division IV-A girls' basketball playoffs, beating host Costa Mesa, 67-42, on Thursday.

These two programs were not supposed to play when the section first released the playoff pairings on Sunday. The section revised the bracket later.

Instead of facing South Pasadena at home, the Mustangs were now playing host to third-seeded JSerra from the robust Trinity League.

Maddox said she still does not know why the change in teams happened. She said she never received an explanation, just an e-mail from Athletic Director Patty Smith.

The matchup turned out to be a mismatch. The Lions (10-17) gladly took it as they ended a six-game losing streak.

"We were going to Banning," JSerra Coach Mary Rossignol said of the original opponent the Lions learned they would meet in the opening round of the playoffs. "I don't know why [the section changed our opponent]."

What Rossignol does understand is the drive to Costa Mesa from San Juan Capistrano was a lot better for the Lions.

JSerra did not have to make a 167-mile roundtrip to get its first victory since Jan. 22.

The Lions, who reached the quarterfinals of the playoffs last season, led from start to finish. Junior Samara Hanna led the way with a game-high 18 points and 10 rebounds, and sophomore August Touchard contributed 16 points, five rebounds and five steals.

The game got away from Costa Mesa (12-15) by halftime as it trailed, 41-23. Fourteen turnovers hampered the Mustangs' offense.

Marilyn Armstrong recorded 11 points, almost half of Costa Mesa's offensive production in the first half. The sophomore guard finished with a team-high 13 points.

"Like I told my girls, they were hungry," Maddox said of the Lions, an at-large entry into the playoffs. "They went 0-8 [in league play] and they wanted to come out and get a win. They haven't gotten a win in a long time. This was their opportunity.

"When they're going against the No. 1 team in the nation [in Mater Dei] every time [in league], they're pretty prepared when they come out. If we were in their league, we would be prepared, too."

Maddox must now get ready for next season and deal with some huge losses.

The Mustangs are losing seven seniors, three of which started Thursday. Annie Sturm and Itzel Flores played big roles in helping Maddox lead Costa Mesa to the postseason in each of her first two seasons at the helm.

Flores finished with nine points, eight rebounds and two steals in her final game, and Sturm had eight points. The two contributed to Costa Mesa placing second in the Orange Coast League this season, a step up from its third-place showing in 2009-10.

"My goal was … make the playoffs," Maddox said of her first two seasons. "We got third last year [in league] and this year we got second. Next year, we're headed for first place.

"We still have Armstrong coming back. [Molly] Settles is an up-and-coming [sophomore]. [Marlene] Castro will be our senior point guard next year."

*

CIF Southern Section

Division IV-A

First round

JSerra 67, Costa Mesa 42

SCORE BY QUARTERS

JSerra 17 – 24 – 13 – 13 – 67

Mesa 8 – 15 – 7 – 12 – 42

J – Hanna 18, Touchard 16, Alvarado 13, Morris 8, Curry 4, Braeutigam 4, Simms 2, Kenefick 2

3 – Touchard 2, Hanna 1, Alvarado 1.

Fouled out – None.

Technical – None.

CM – Armstrong 13, Flores 9, Sturm 8, Settles 5, Wase 3, Cerrato 2, Torrenueva 2.

3 – Wase 1, Settles 1.

Fouled out - None.

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