COSTA MESA — A couple of days ago, Ben Beck tried to call the second contest in the Battle for the Bell rivalry just another game.
It turned out to be a memorable one for Beck in front of the home crowd at Estancia High on Thursday night.
The junior wanted to forget about most of the Orange Coast League home game, until he threw up a desperate three-pointer at the buzzer.
"I couldn't make a shot … to save my life," Beck said, "but I made the one that counted."
Beck found his shot when it mattered most, in a game-winning situation.
Coach Agustin Heredia missed the frantic shot, because his players stood up, blocking his vision. It's a good thing Heredia didn't see how it went in because it was the kind of shot he hates seeing, a three-pointer banked in.
Yes, Beck banked in a three to lift the Eagles to a 33-32 victory. Fans stormed the court to celebrate with Beck and his teammates.
"That was a heck of a shot," Heredia said. "I'll take that bank."
A win is a win and this one clinched second place for the Eagles (16-11, 7-3 in league), who went into the regular-season finale sharing the spot with Costa Mesa.
The Mustangs claimed the Bell for the first time in five years because it won last month's game against Estancia by a larger margin, three points, but they now have to play for third place.
As his players reluctantly rang the Bell at midcourt, Coach Bryan Rice said his Mustangs (17-9, 6-4) play Friday against Godinez (17-9, 6-4). The winner earns the league's third playoff berth and the loser hopes to get in as an at-large team.
The Mustangs shouldn't be in this situation. Their defensive game plan worked to perfection, limiting Estancia 6-foot-7 center Rashad Davis' touches.
A 1-3-1 zone confused the Eagles throughout. They had a hard time finding the biggest player on the court, even when he was open.
"Except for one play," Rice said, "we were exactly where we wanted to be [defensively]."
Beck didn't have the best look at the basket at the end.
None of it would've mattered had the Mustangs iced the game at the free-throw line with nine seconds left. They led, 32-30, and Jake Comer was in a one-and-one situation.
The first attempt was no good and the Eagles rebounded the ball. With no timeouts, Chad Fackler then passed the ball to Beck, who was past midcourt.
Beck dribbled up the sideline, going toward the corner before pulling up for a three-pointer. Well, he didn't just pull up.
"I just threw it up," said Beck, who praised the pass by Fackler, who led the Eagles with 12 points. "I'm not going to say it is luck, but it pretty much was."
Beck was due. He missed each of his eight shots prior to his final one.
Heredia still had faith in Beck. He remembered how the guard knocked down five three-pointers in a 68-31 league win at home against Saddleback on Tuesday.
Beck had no luck in his first four three-point attempts against Costa Mesa. One even hit the side of the backboard midway through the second quarter.
On the last three-point shot, Beck said he felt the ball wasn't going to go in because he shot it so high.
Just in case Beck missed it, Davis was under the basket, waiting for a chance at a put-back.
Three of Davis' five field goals came on second-chance opportunities. That seemed the only way Davis could hurt Costa Mesa by grabbing offensive rebounds.
Outside of the second quarter, when Davis scored seven of his 11 points, teammates didn't get Davis the ball in the paint. That frustrated not only Davis, the team's leading scorer, but Heredia.
Heredia had enough midway through the fourth quarter.
With Estancia down, 29-28, and seeing his team go without a field goal during an eight-minute stretch, Heredia pleaded his team to feed Davis the ball.
"We got a 6-7 guy," Heredia said. "Get him the … ball!"
The Eagles seemed to ignore Heredia.
Davis only got one more shot off in the final four minutes, coming on an offensive rebound. He grabbed 20 rebounds, 10 on the offensive side, and blocked three shots.
Davis just wanted to help his team win its fourth straight game and head into the CIF Southern Section Division 3A playoffs with momentum.
"It being my senior year I really thank Ben a lot for making that game-winning shot," Davis said. "Thank God he made it."
Orange Coast League
Estancia 33, Costa Mesa 32
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Costa Mesa 12 – 9 – 8– 3 — 32
Estancia 14 – 9 – 3 – 7 — 33
CM – N. Hefner 14, Dawson 9, Walden 3, Hayes 3, J. Comer 3.
3-pt. goals – N. Hefner 3, Walden 1, Hayes 1.
Fouled out – None.
Technicals – None.
E – Fackler 12, Davis 11, Beck 3, Pereira 3, Sullivan 2, Harry 2.
3-pt. goals – Fackler 2, Beck 1.
Fouled out – None.
Technicals – None.