Boys' Basketball Playoffs: 3 teams open at home

Three local high school boys' basketball teams open the CIF Southern Section playoffs at home on Wednesday at 7 p.m.

One program is giving out free pizza and T-shirts to students who show up.

Corona del Mar is hoping the free grub and gear entices fans.

Estancia and Costa Mesa have nothing special planned as far as giveaways to fans.

All season, the Sea Kings haven't had a large crowd come see them play.

Estancia and Costa Mesa have played in front of a packed gym. The most recent time was against each other last week. The Eagles won on a buzzer-beating three-pointer and clinched second place in the Orange Coast League at home.

Heredia said a game like that should fire up any student body to come out and support Estancia.

Another reason to attend the Eagles' playoff opener is that they have a good chance of winning. You can say the same thing about the matchups for CdM and Costa Mesa.

Of the three, CdM (15-10) received the highest seed: No. 5 in Division 3A. The Sea Kings, who finished runner-up in the Pacific Coast League, play Laguna Hills (12-16), an at-large entry out of the Sea View League.

Estancia (16-11), in Division 3A, has Gladstone (13-11), the fourth-place team from the Montview League.

Costa Mesa (18-9) earned a Division 4A home game against St. Monica Catholic (13-14) after beating Godinez in a third-place playoff game in the Orange Coast League on Friday. The Mustangs beat St. Monica, the third-place team from the Camino Real League, 63-54, in December.

Estancia and CdM haven't seen their respective opponents this season. Heredia said he searched Google for info on Gladstone.

He wasn't feeling so lucky after what he read up on the Gladiators from Covina.

"The stories I read said they shoot the ball well from the outside," said Heredia, whose team struggles defending the perimeter.

The Eagles' defensive woes can be attributed to their low numbers, as only eight are on the roster.

The Sea Kings might be without one player.

Coach Ryan Schachter said Andrew McCormack, a senior starting forward, suffered a concussion in CdM's game at Beckman on Feb. 6. McCormack missed the following game, the team's regular-season finale at Northwood.

The Sea Kings won, 62-54, without McCormack, a key contributor and a member of CdM's quarterfinal playoff runs the past two seasons.

"He's going to the doctor [on Tuesday]," said Schachter, who won't rush McCormack back because of the severity of a concussion injury.

Schachter said he feels comfortable starting sophomore Kevin Manchester in McCormack's spot again. Manchester hasn't played much this season because McCormack has usually played every minute.

Manchester played strong defense against Northwood and the Sea Kings won their second road game of the season and claimed second place in league. They are going to have to get better on the road if they plan to reach the quarterfinals again.

"I told our guys if they want to make a run in the playoffs, they have to win on the road," said Schachter, who has led CdM to a section title and three quarterfinal appearances in the past five seasons.

"We could lose in the first round or make a run."

Estancia and Costa Mesa are looking to get out of the first round.

The Eagles have been one-and-done in each of their past two postseason appearances, losing by double-digits at home each time.

Rashad Davis, a 6-foot-7 senior center, leads Estancia. He is averaging 16.4 points, 15 rebounds and 3.4 blocks per game.

Costa Mesa is making its second straight playoff appearance under Coach Bryan Rice. He led them to 18 wins, tying the school record for most victories in a season.

How they got to No. 18, one day after losing at Estancia, 33-32, for second place in league, impressed Rice.

"A couple of years, their heads wouldn't have been quite ready to bounce back," said Rice, whose Mustangs went on to beat Godinez, 37-25, and clinch third place in league to receive a home game in the first round of the playoffs. "They've really come a long way."

Twitter: @DCPenaloza

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