High Schools: CdM, Estancia aim for upsets

On paper, one local high school boys' basketball team and two boys' soccer teams aren't supposed to win Tuesday.

All three programs face teams seeded in the top four of their respective CIF Southern Section playoff brackets.

But all three locals have great shots at winning their respective contests.

The Corona del Mar boys' basketball team is at fourth-seeded Santa Margarita in the Division 3A quarterfinals at 7 p.m.

The CdM boys' soccer team is at fourth-seeded Fontana in a Division III second-round match at 3 p.m.

The Estancia boys' soccer team plays host to second-seeded Artesia of Lakewood in a Division IV second-round match at 6 p.m.

The CdM basketball and soccer teams reached this round last season, while Estancia wasn't in the postseason.

Below is a breakdown of each playoff matchup:

CdM (17-10) vs. Santa

Margarita (16-13)

If you looked at Coach Ryan Schachter's first five seasons at CdM, the basketball team reached at least the quarterfinals four times.

So, he should expect to lead the Sea Kings to the quarterfinals every season, right?

Schachter laughs when you say a quarterfinal appearance is automatic with him at the helm. He didn't count on anything this season.

Remember, he lost all five starters to graduation from last season's team. Back in December, he called this a rebuilding season.

Two months later, Schachter has CdM in the quarterfinals for the third straight season. And Schachter isn't satisfied with just making the quarters.

He believes fifth-seeded CdM has a winnable game at Santa Margarita, which plays in the robust Trinity League, with the likes of Mater Dei, St. John Bosco and Orange Lutheran, which earned the No. 1 seed in Division 1AA, No. 2 seed in Division 3A and No. 3 seed in Division 1A, respectively.

"Our guys believe," said Schachter, who has one player who has played major minutes against Santa Margarita before.

The two programs met last season in the first round of the playoffs at CdM.

Andrew McCormack, who came off the bench last season, helped the Sea Kings rout Santa Margarita, 64-40.

McCormack is now a senior and he starts. The Eagles will surely remember McCormack and how the Sea Kings held Santa Margarita to 11 points at halftime.

"They're going to be coming for us," Schachter said of the Eagles, who finished fifth in the Trinity League. "They return a lot of guys from last season's team."

The Eagles pose a problem for Pacific Coast League runner-up CdM when it comes to size.

Joe Furstinger is a 6-foot-8 sophomore for Santa Margarita. The Sea Kings' tallest players are both 6-4 — Jake McCloskey, a senior starting guard, and Kevin Manchester, a sophomore forward who has come off the bench late in the season.

McCloskey is coming off back-to-back productive playoff performances. He had 16 points in CdM's 61-49 road win against San Luis Obispo in the second round at Morro Bay High. He opened the postseason with a 17-point effort in CdM's 63-41 win at home against Laguna Hills.

"We might be a bit quicker and more athletic than them," Schachter said. "But they have a big guard [in 6-4 Wolfie Wood] who can score."

Schachter said CdM didn't get to see Wood at his best last season in the playoffs because he was hurt.

A healthy Wood is averaging 17.7 points per game as a senior. Wood is looking to send off Santa Margarita's longtime coach, Jerry DeBusk, on a good note.

DeBusk has said this season, his 20th at Santa Margarita, is his last. He has led the program to five section titles and two state championships.

"This might be DeBusk's last home game," said Schachter, who is trying to lead CdM past the quarterfinals for only the second time during his tenure.

Estancia (12-4-5) vs. Artesia (21-1-1)

Coach Robert Castellano said he's glad his Estancia soccer team opened the first round on the road.

The Eagles get to play at home against second-seeded Artesia in the second round after they pulled out a 2-1 overtime win at La Serna of Whittier last week.

"We're expecting a big home crowd," said Castellano, who moved the match to the evening, instead of starting at 3 p.m. because his players enjoy playing under the lights at Jim Scott Stadium.

Estancia and Artesia have one common opponent: La Mirada. The Eagles defeated La Mirada, 4-0, at the North Orange County Classic in December, and the Pioneers easily beat La Mirada twice in the Suburban League.

Despite Artesia only having one loss, Castellano said the teams are even, except for the style of play.

The Eagles dominate possession, while the Pioneers are a more physical side.

One player who can help Estancia mix it up is Sean Bjelland. Castellano expects to have him back in the playoffs.

Castellano said the senior defender missed the first-round match because of a school trip.

"He's a calming presence for us in the back," said Castellano, whose team was able to extend its unbeaten streak to eight matches without Bjelland.

"We are determined to get past this round. These kids we have are very talented and organized."

Castellano hopes that translates into the Eagles' first quarterfinal appearance since the 2008-09 season.

CdM (10-6-3) vs.

Fontana (19-1-1)

There has been a lot of talk about the star soccer players CdM lost to academy commitments.

The guys who have stepped in have done an incredible job. The Sea Kings are one win away from getting to the quarterfinals.

Conor Roche returned to the lineup last week after being out for two weeks with a knee injury. The striker resumed his role as goal scorer, as he put away two in the Sea Kings' 4-0 first-round win at home against Don Lugo of Chino.

Coach George Larsen has his defense performing at a high level. Goalkeeper Armon Alaghband recorded his second shutout.

Alaghband will be busy against Fontana, the Citrus Belt League champion. The Steelers have three goal scorers, Carlos Cruz (25 goals), Jonathan Madrid (23) and Patricio Paz (23).

The Sea Kings, the Pacific Coast League champions, will try to slow the trio and keep their season alive.


Twitter: @DCPenaloza

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