Mesa can ring bell

COSTA MESA — The last time the Costa Mesa High girls' basketball team faced Estancia, one player lit up the Mustangs for 34 points.

The Eagles usually have a hard time scoring 34 points in a game.

But Celia Duran had her way at Costa Mesa last month. She recorded a career night and capped it by knocking down the game-winning three-point shot late.

Nancy Aguilar never forgot. She and the Mustangs got their chance at revenge against the Eagles Wednesday.

This time a lot more was at stake, the Battle for the Bell rivalry and second place in the Orange Coast League.

Aguilar's job was to slow down Duran. She not only contained Duran, she outscored her as well.

Aguilar delivered in the second half.

She produced 14 of her game-high 21 points in the final 16 minutes, leading Costa Mesa to a 47-35 road victory, which clinched second place in league and the Bell.

The trophy belonged to the Eagles the past three seasons. Estancia Coach Xavier Castellano tried to downplay the Bell's significance.

The setback cost Estancia more than bragging rights, most likely a chance at opening the CIF Southern Section Division 3A playoffs next week at home. The Eagles placed third in league at 6-4.

The Mustangs will play host to a Division 4AA first-round game after their second straight 7-3 runner-up finish in league. They finished behind Estancia last season.

The Eagles now had to look up to Costa Mesa and see the Mustangs ring the Bell.

Aguilar finally got her chance to before she graduates, even though the schools split the two-game series. The tiebreaker went to Costa Mesa, which won its game by more points.

"It's going to be hard to see her go," Costa Mesa Coach Nichole Maddox said of Aguilar. "She's been doing a great job for us for four years."

Aguilar's best performance might have come in the biggest girls' game in town.

Maddox had no idea how many points Duran totaled in the regular-season finale.

"It wasn't as many as [the] 34 she had last game," Maddox said with a smile. "I know that."

Duran led the Eagles with 14 points. She didn't get much help as no other Estancia player scored in double digits.

Bryanna Vernon came close, finishing with nine points. Three of those came a minute into the fourth quarter.

Vernon nailed her third three-pointer, and after two free throws by Duran, the Eagles cut the Mustangs lead to 30-29.

Maddox called a timeout and Costa Mesa responded.

In the next two minutes, the Mustangs outscored Estancia, 8-2. Ebelin Roman, Marlene Castro, Rachel Witter and Aguilar each scored in the paint.

Two of those players, Castro and Witter, fouled out in the fourth quarter of the previous game against Estancia and it helped the Eagles.

Maddox said having three starters foul out allowed Estancia to storm back from a double-digit deficit. The Eagles stood no chance at overcoming a similar deficit the second time around.

Only one Costa Mesa player fouled out Wednesday, Witter, who had nine points.

Aguilar converted a layup and pushed the Mustangs' lead to 44-34 with 2:17 left to play. Making up the difference down the stretch seemed impossible for Estancia. The most points Estancia scored in a quarter before the fourth was nine points.

"Are they a better team? I don't know," Castellano said. "We beat them once. They beat us once. We made the playoffs. They made the playoffs."

What Costa Mesa has over the Eagles is second place in league and the rib dinner given to the winner of the rivalry.

Twitter: @DCPenaloza


Orange Coast League

Costa Mesa 47, Estancia 35


Costa Mesa 6 – 10 – 14– 17 — 47

Estancia 6 –9 – 9 – 11 — 35

CM – Aguilar 21, Witter 9, Laredo 5, Roman 4, Castro 4, Settles 4.

3-pt. goals – Aguilar 1.

Fouled out – Witter.

Technicals – None.

E – Duran 14, Vernon 9, Jason 4, Garcia 3, Silva 2, Rubacalva 2, Avila 1.

3-pt. goals – Vernon 3, Garcia 1, Duran 1.

Fouled out – None.

Technicals – None.

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