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Boys basketball: Mesa improves and wins

December 23, 2000

Steve Virgen

MISSION VIEJO - With an energized effort in the first half, the

Costa Mesa High boys basketball team displayed its hunger for a win.

Few came hungrier than Mustang senior Steve Whittaker, who connected

on eight three-pointers and scored a game-high 24 points to lead Mesa to

its first victory at the Trabuco Hills Tournament, a 59-45 pool-play

victory over Stockdale (5-6).

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Mesa (5-4) opened with a 24-15 first quarter lead as the Mustangs hit

five three-pointers. Three treys came from Whittaker's hands, while David

Conte and Chad Vakili each knocked one down from long range.

"We came out and played with energy today," said Whittaker, who also

finished with 10 rebounds. "Last night, we were flat. We didn't want it.

But, now it seems like we want it. We just wanted to win."

Whittaker went on to sink three three-pointers in the second quarter

as the Mustangs built a 44-28 advantage. Mesa Coach Bob Serven said

Whittaker had been in a bit of slump recently, but the 6-foot guard

exploded out of his rut and Stockdale paid the price.

Said Whittaker, "In the first half, I was feeling it big time."

Mesa had lost its first two games in the tourney at Trabuco Hills High

School. Laguna Hills scored the final 14 points of the game to beat the

Mustangs, 52-49 in the first day of pool-play action. And, then Mesa hit

17 three-pointers, but suffered a 72-68 decision to A.B. Miller.

Serven was excited to see his team improve its intensity to end the

two-game skid.

"We battled to win this game," he said. "We had a great first half. It

came down to what I expect out of them. If you expect mediocrity, you're

going to get mediocrity. You have to have high expectations. That's what

I expect."

Vakili was the only other Mustang to score in double figures, putting

in 10. Conte and Nolan Clark chipped in with six points each.

"It was nice to see Whittaker snap out of his slump," Serven said. "I

have a lot of confidence in him. He's our team leader. Our players seem

to feed off of him."

Mesa will close out tournament play today at 1:45 p.m.

TRABUCO HILLS TOURNAMENT

Pool Play

Costa Mesa 59, Stockdale 45

Costa Mesa - 24 20 10 5 - 59

Stockdale - 15 13 8 9 - 45

Costa Mesa - Whittaker 24, Vakili 10, Conte 6, Clark 6, Payne 4,

Millward 4, Krikorian 3, Gandia 2, Biggio 0, Cabico 0, Fregoso 0,

Amburgey 0.

3-pt. goals - Whittaker 8, Vakili 2, Conte 1, Krikorian 1.

Fouled out - Millward.

Technicals - Payne.

Stockdale - Garnett 10, Reese 10, Betty 10, Downs 7, O'Donerty 3,

Morehead 2, Robertson 2, Thompson 1.

3-pt. goals - Downs 1.

Fouled out - None.

Technicals - O'Donerty.

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