COSTA MESA — The game again looked like a loss.
Somehow, the Estancia High boys' basketball team again found a way.
No one can say the Eagles don't have a flair for the dramatic. Say what you want about the Eagles, just don't count them out.
Last week, Estancia clinched second place in the Orange Coast League when Ben Beck banked in a three-pointer at the buzzer against rival Costa Mesa. On Wednesday, Estancia claimed yet another improbable victory, this time in its home gym.
The Eagles rallied from a 12-point deficit in the final six minutes of regulation, earning a 44-43 overtime victory over Gladstone of Covina in a CIF Southern Section Division 3A first-round playoff game.
"Man, I'm getting kind of tired of these one-point games," senior center Rashad Davis said after it was all over, his smile showing that he wasn't too upset.
No. 14-seeded Estancia won its first playoff game in four years. The Eagles (17-11) will head north to the Ventura area to play at No. 3 Oak Park in a second-round game Friday night. Oak Park defeated Littlerock, 63-24, in another first-round game.
Davis was a big reason why the Eagles move on, with his game-highs of 23 points, 13 rebounds and three blocked shots.
The win wasn't sealed until Gladstone senior forward Vince Delgado's last-second three-pointer from about 35 feet came up well short at the buzzer. Delgado was defended well on the play by Chad Fackler and Robert Sullivan.
"He kind of went to his left," Estancia Coach Agustin Heredia said of Delgado, who scored a team-high 11 points for Gladstone (13-12). "The scouting report said he goes to his left. We had two guys there, so that would have been a tough shot to hit."
The Eagles looked like they had no shot early in the fourth quarter. They looked like they were headed to their third straight playoff defeat on their home floor. Heredia called timeout with 6:22 to go, after a pair of Gladstone free throws gave the Gladiators a 39-27 advantage.
But Estancia ended regulation on a 14-2 run. The Eagles tied the score at 41 when Davis hit a free throw with 17 seconds left in regulation, then watched Gladstone miss a contested jumper and a long three-pointer in the closing seconds.
Davis, who is a team captain along with junior guard Ben Beck (six points) and sophomore guard Martin Harry (three), said the Eagles just buckled down.
"All our captains stepped up and made the decision that we wanted to win the game," Davis said. "To get this for coach, and break the losing streak of being 'one and done,' this game meant something to us. It wasn't just a regular game. It was a privilege to play [in CIF], and we took that privilege and made the most out of it."
Sophomore guard Josh Mendoza added eight points for Estancia, and Fackler dished out five assists.
The Eagles took the lead early in overtime on Davis' put-back. A basket by Delgado tied the score at 43, but Beck's free throw with 2:09 left ended up being the game-winning point.
Estancia missed the front end of a one-and-one with six seconds left, but didn't allow Gladstone to get a quality look.
Davis shot 10 for 14 from the field. The rest of the Eagles' starters combined to make just five of 26 field goal attempts (19%).
"We're all streaky shooters," Heredia said. "Josh Mendoza played well for us off the bench and gave us some nice points."
The Eagles must get hot to have a chance to knock off Oak Park. Davis said he expects a good game.
"From what I hear, they're a pretty good team," he said. "In my eyes, we're a pretty good team too. It's going to be a battle of two pretty good teams."
CIF Southern Section Division 3A Playoffs
Estancia 44, Gladstone 43 (OT)
SCORE BY PERIODS
Gladstone 9 – 9 – 14 – 9 – 2 – 43
Estancia 8 – 14 – 5 – 14 – 3 – 44
Glad – Delgado 11, Fernandez 10, Martinez 9, Chavira 7, Servin 6.
3-pt. goals – Fernandez 2, Chavira 2, Martinez 1, Servin 1.
Fouled out – Reaves.
Technicals – None.
Est – Davis 23, Mendoza 8, Beck 6, Harry 3, Sullivan 2, Fackler 2.
3-pt. goals – Mendoza 2.
Fouled out – None.
Technicals – None.