Girls' Basketball Playoffs: Drought figures to end

No player on the four Newport-Mesa teams competing in the CIF Southern Section girls' basketball playoffs has ever experienced a postseason victory.

[FOR THE RECORD: The Estancia High girls' basketball team won a playoff game last season, contrary to what was published in a story that appeared in Tuesday's edition.]

Corona del Mar High, Costa Mesa, Estancia and Sage Hill will attempt to change all that when they begin play in their respective divisions Thursday at 7 p.m.

The Sea Kings (10-16) are the No. 10 seed in Division 3A, though they finished last in the Pacific Coast League. Coach Mark Decker's squad, which began the season 7-4, before losing 12 of its final 15, appears to have a solid chance of first-round success, as it plays host to Saddleback (10-13).

"It's a good opportunity," Decker said of the first-round draw, which came with the added surprise of being a home game. "The girls have wanted to do this and they are looking forward to it. We knew our league would be extremely tough, so it will be interesting to see how we recover."

CdM, which has not won a playoff game since 2001, is led by seniors Karleh Wilson, Melanie de Arakal and Samantha Coffman. Wilson is averaging 11 points and eight rebounds per game, while de Arakal chips in seven points per contest, Decker said.

The Sea Kings did not play Saddleback this season, but CdM did defeat Estancia, which split two Orange Coast League games with the Roadrunners.

CdM, which earned an at-large bid to qualify for its fourth straight postseason, has lost seven straight.

Should the Sea Kings advance, they would visit No. 7-seeded La Canada (15-11). La Canada knocked CdM out of the playoffs in 2009 and 2010.

Estancia (14-12) is the No. 12 seed in Division 3A after finishing third in the Orange Coast League. Coach Xavier Castellano's Eagles are making the program's fourth straight postseason appearance, though they last won a CIF playoff game in 2004. That 2004 win came in a wild-card game. They have not won a first-round game since 2002.

The Eagles play host to Azusa (5-21), an at-large entry that finished seventh in the Montview League. The Aztecs lost their final five regular-season games.

Estancia, which dropped a second-place showdown against Costa Mesa, 47-35, on Wednesday, is led by sophomore guard Celia Duran, as well as sophomore Bryanna Vernon and junior Giana Jason.

Should Estancia win Thursday, it would travel to Atascadero (16-8) for a second-round contest on Saturday.

Costa Mesa (10-16), which won the perpetual Bell trophy from Estancia for the first time in four seasons, due to point differential after the two crosstown rivals split their two games, visits No. 8-seeded JSerra (20-6) on Thursday.

JSerra, which tied for second in the Trinity League, will be trying to terminate the Mustangs' third straight trip to the playoffs. Mesa, which won two straight and seven of its last nine to finish the regular season, has not won a playoff game since 2008.

Coach Nichole Maddox's Mustangs are led by senior guard Nancy Aguilera (11.5 points per game), senior guard Marlene Castro (3.4 assists per contest) and 5-foot-8 junior center Molly Settles (9.6 points and 6.2 rebounds per game).

Sage Hill (7-15) finished fourth in the Academy League, but earned an at-large berth in Division 5A. The Lightning, under first-year coach Taylor Cohen, have been the area's most successful postseason threat the last several years.

Though Sage missed the CIF playoffs the last two seasons and has not won a playoff game since 2008, it won 10 playoff games in seven straight postseason appearances, beginning in 2003.

The Lightning are paced by 6-2 senior Zoe Kreitenberg and 5-11 junior Maggie Danner, both of whom started for the CIF Southern Section Division IV-AA girls' volleyball champions last fall.

Sage Hill visits Fairmont Prep (15-6), the champion of the San Joaquin League. The Anaheim-based school, which won nine of its final 10 regular-season games, is led by freshman Blaysen Vardandoe, who is averaging 19 points and 12.6 rebounds per game.

Twitter: @BarryFaulkner5

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