Girls' Basketball: Eagles push forward

COSTA MESA — Celia Duran said she's not one to panic.

The day before the junior led the Estancia High girls' basketball team to a 54-43 win against Ridgecrest Burroughs on Saturday, she said she was scared for her life.

She took cover underneath a desk while her school went into lockdown on Friday afternoon. A student's parent allegedly brandished what looked like a real gun during a fight with a school administrator.

The first thing that popped into Duran's mind was her coach, Xavier Castellano. He's a security guard on campus.

"One of the helpers [at the school] heard Coach Xavy running and yelling, 'Gun!'" said Duran, who's a teacher's aide during sixth period.

"I was so scared for him because he is a security guard, you know? That's his job, to go toward danger. Once everyone was OK, we were fine."

Thirty-minutes after administrators lifted the lockdown and police took the man into custody, Duran and her team practiced in the gym.

Castellano worried about whether the incident might affect his team, which prepared for its second-round game in the CIF Southern Section Division 3A playoffs.

"Our whole school as a group went through something, you know, a little traumatic," Castellano said. "The girls could've [come] in, you know, with their heads somewhere else. But I'm a big believer in attitude effects leadership. Mr. [Michael] Sciacca and Dr. [Kirk] Bauermeister, our vice principal and principal, they, man, you know, you can't ask for better [leaders] at the school.

"Something unfortunately happened, but the way they secured the [school]. In my eyes, those two men are heroes."

Sciacca and Bauermeister attended the Eagles' game on Saturday night. There wasn't much of a security presence in the gym.

"It's a safe city, man," Castellano said. "It was a hiccup. I'm all the security you need."

Castellano put on his usual coaching outfit on Saturday. He led the Eagles to an unusual stage of the playoffs during his time at the helm.

The quarterfinal trip will be Estancia's first in Castellano's five seasons. Duran helped by finishing with a game-high 27 points, five rebounds and five steals in Estancia's victory in the second round.

When it was over, Castellano shook hands with fans, parents and school administrators. He was proud of how his players performed.

"They came out and played their hearts out," Castellano said.

The postseason game was the first for the Eagles (20-7). They had a first-round bye, extra time to work on a game plan against Burroughs (17-7), which was seeded eighth, one spot ahead of Estancia.

The Eagles even sent someone to scout the school in the opening round on Thursday. Burroughs is 170 miles away from Estancia.

"I was going to go," Castellano said, "but I love my wife too much, so I stayed home."

The next day, Castellano had to deal with something else close to home. He had to calm his players down after what happened on campus.

Duran said everyone on the team was freaked out after the school went into lockdown. A 35-year-old Costa Mesa resident allegedly pulled out a BB gun and threatened an assistant principal when the father was unable to take his child out of school because the family has an active restraining order against him, said Laura Boss, a spokesperson with the Newport-Mesa Unified School District.

"As a coach, it's scary," Castellano said. "I'm a security guard here. I care about the kids here. I went to school here. You never want to see anything like that happen. Our leadership, everyone involved, teachers, principals, security guards, teacher's aides, they came up big time."

"Today was just a game. It was a simple basketball game. God forbid it was something else that happened [Friday], we might not be playing [Saturday]."

The Eagles get to play at least one more time. They travel on Wednesday to West Hills Chaminade (24-3), the No. 1 seed and one of the top programs in the state.


CIF Southern Section Division 3A playoffs

Second round

Estancia 54, Burroughs 43


Burroughs 8 – 10 – 12 – 13 — 43

Estancia 12 – 17 – 15 – 10 — 54

Bur – Hayes 9, M. Schiller 8, Perez 6, Simmons 6, Jennings 4, McGraw 4, Forsythe 4, R. Schiller 2.

3-pt. goals – Hayes 3, Simmons 2.

Est – Duran 27, Simmons 9, M. Van Den Heever 8, Molina 4, Vernon 3, Herrera 2, Jason 1.

3-pt. goals – Norman 2, Rivas 1, Murray 1, Pierce 1.

Twitter: @DCPenaloza

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