Girls' Basketball: Nervous Eagles prevail

There wasn't this much gridlock in the passing lanes during Jamzilla.

Estancia High and Gladstone combined for 75 turnovers in their 32-minute first-round CIF Southern Section Division 3A girls basketball playoff game Thursday, prompting Eagles Co-Coach Xavier Castellano to hope his team turns over a new leaf for Saturday's second-round clash.

"I think our girls came out nervous today," said Castellano, whose No. 5-seeded Eagles posted a 57-36 win to extend their winning streak to 10. "They were a little too anxious and it showed. Luckily, we made some of our shots, but, offensively, if we do that, we're not going to go very far in the playoffs. We need to take care of the ball better."

The Eagles (24-3) had 33 turnovers on their way to a second-round clash at Ocean View on Saturday at 7 p.m.

But Estancia, pressing throughout, forced 42 turnovers and held the Gladiators (7-18) to 20.4% shooting from the field. Gladstone, which went eight minutes without a field goal spanning the end of the first half and the final seconds of the third quarter, made just five of 29 second-half field-goal tries (17.3%).

"We have to do the little things right if we want to go far in the playoffs," Castellano said. "We didn't do the little things right tonight. You have to focus in. We got that one out of the way. We know what [playoff atmosphere] is like and we know we have to come ready to work on Saturday."

The visitors appeared ready to work in the first five minutes, hitting a pair of three-pointers to forge an 8-8 tie with 3:21 left in the first quarter. But the Eagles finished the period on a 10-2 run, scored the first eight points of the second quarter, and rolled to a 32-20 halftime advantage.

Gladstone had 21 turnovers at the break, just six more than the Eagles, who scored the majority of their points on 13 layups and six three-pointers.

Senior Celia Duran made three three-pointers and had 10 of her 13 points by halftime.

Sophomore Maya Van Den Heever had most of her six layups in transition on her way to a game-high 17 points. She also added seven assists, six rebounds and three steals.

Senior Bryanna Vernon came off the bench to produce nine points, including a pair of three-pointers, while senior Slade Garnett had six points and four steals in limited minutes, as both she and Duran sat out most of the second half.

The sloppy play, created by full-court pressure applied by both teams, created almost a continuous transition tempo, as the Eagles went over the top of the press for several easy baskets and also kicked out or skip passed to create wide-open shots from threedom.

Gladstone, which lost seven of its last eight, had averaged just 33 points in six consecutive losses before winning its regular-season finale, 51-28, over La Puente.

Estancia, on the other hand, almost nailed the 21.6 average margin of victory it had achieved in its previous nine consecutive wins.

Castellano also blamed complacency for some of the Eagles' less-than-stellar performance.

"You can never overlook an opponent and I think we did that a little bit," Castellano said. "Practice [leading into the game] was not as great as we wanted it to be. The girls look on Max Preps [an online statistical data base] and they see things."

Gladstone senior guard Jessica Rosas came in averaging 14.7 points this season, but had had just three with 4:17 remaining. She finished with a team-best eight points, followed by sophomore guard Savannah Rudder with seven.

CIF Division 3A playoffs

First round

Estancia 57, Gladstone 36


Gladstone 10 10 2 14 – 36

Estancia 18 14 20 5 – 57

Gladstn – Rosas 8, Rudder 7, Cano 6, Mendez 5, Rice 3, Osorio 2, Morales 2, Mendoza 2, Ramos 1.

3-pt. goals – Rosas 1, Rudder 1, Mendez 1.

Fouled out – None.

Technicals – None.

Est – M. Van Den Heever 17, Duran 13, Vernon 9, Garnett 6, Guyot 4, Perry 4, Jason 2, Simmons 2.

3-pt. goals – Duran 3, Vernon 2, Guyot 1.

Fouled out – None.

Technicals – None.

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