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Boys basketball: Mustangs have fun

February 07, 2001

Steve Virgen

LAGUNA BEACH - This might be the most important week of the season

for the Costa Mesa High boys basketball team. But, Tuesday night at

Laguna Beach, the Mustangs were having a good time, giddy with an 87-48

Pacific Coast League victory over the Artists.

"That was a feel-good game," said Mesa Coach Bob Serven, who never had

to call a timeout. "Everyone got to play and it put us at 6-3 in league

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(16-9 overall)."

Mustang center Mike Payne was also in a celebration mode. He finished

with 17 points, including two emphatic dunks, 12 rebounds and six blocked

shots.

"It was a lot of fun tonight," Payne said.

With just over five minutes remaining, he completed a tip-jam off a

Mustangs' missed shot to send the crowd into a frenzy and gave Mesa a

74-40 lead.

"It's a habit for me to follow those," Payne said with a laugh. "My

teammates are always missing layups in practice. I just got a lucky

bounce on that one."

Mesa guard Steve Whittaker didn't miss his layups. He scored a

game-high 25 points, including five three-pointers. David Conte, the

Mustangs' starting point guard, contributed 12 points, 10 in the third

period, as Mesa opened with a 10-4 run.

"You can't look past anybody," Whittaker said of the PCL's last-place

team, Laguna Beach (4-20, 0-9 in league). "We did what we had to do to

win. And, we had fun."

The Mustangs broke open their seven-point lead after the first

quarter. They raced to a 23-6 run with three-point shots and Payne's

blocked shots creating transition. Payne blocked a shot and sped out on

transition as Conte found him with good position. Payne then converted a

layup, was fouled and completed a three-point play.

With just over two minutes remaining in the third period, Payne stole

a pass, dribbled coast to coast and ended the play with a slam dunk. He

left the game with five minutes remaining.

Laguna Beach was led by Jason Chatrath and Blodgett, who both scored

14 points. The Artists suited up just six players and surrendered any

hope in the second period when the Mustangs took complete advantage.

Mesa took a 40-23 lead at the half as the Mustangs shot 16 of 29 from

the field and 4 of 11 from behind the three-point line. The Artists shot

just 9 of 24 from the field and also committed nine turnovers.

Mesa will end league play at Corona del Mar, Thursday at 7 p.m.

"That's a tough place to play at," said Serven of CdM's gym. "We're

going to have to be ready.

PACIFIC COAST LEAGUE

Costa Mesa 87, Laguna Beach 48

Costa Mesa 18 22 28 19 - 87

Laguna Beach 11 12 13 12 - 48

Costa Mesa - Whittaker 25, Payne 17, Conte 12, Vakili 9, Clark 8,

Cabico 5, Gandia 5, Biggio 2, Krikorian 2, Millward 2, Fregoso 0,

Amburgey 0.

3-pt. goals - Whittaker 5, Conte 2, Gandia 1, Vakili 1, Cabico 1.

Fouled out - none.

Technicals - none.

Laguna Beach - Chatrath 14, Blodgett 14, Leahy 7, Foes 6, Norfleet 5,

Ridet 2.

3-pt. goals - Chatrath 3, Blodgett 2, Norfleet 1, Leahy 1.

Fouled out - none.

Technicals - none.

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