season, is unfinished. With each game he writes a new chapter of what
grew from a nightmarish beginning.
"Fernando has gone from the outhouse to the penthouse," Estancia Coach
Chris Sorce said. "In the first four games of the year, he was in a
horrendous shooting slump. He was on the verge of being out of the
starting lineup. But he has really responded. He has been more
consistent. He really has had a reversal of fortune. The things he's
doing, I'm getting less and less surprised by. I'm expecting it more
To go from insecurity to confidence, and from bricks to swishes,
Maldonado, a 6-foot 135 pound forward, molded himself into a gym rat. On
Christmas Day, he managed to get an Estancia assistant coach to open the
gym so that he could shoot around. Maldonado has religiously trained and
followed the advice of his coaches:
Forget the past.
Maldonado's new game was on display last week, when the Eagles won the
Garden Grove North County Shootout. The Daily Pilot Athlete of the Week
scored 66 points in the Eagles four wins (16.5 points per game) and was
named the tournament's Most Valuable Player.
He scored 13 of his 18 points in the first half to key a stunning
62-57 win over previously unbeaten Orange in the semifinals, Dec. 21.
And, as if that wasn't enough, Maldonado went for 35 points in a 68-45
victory over Whittier Christian in the first round of the Estancia Coast
Classic Wednesday. Maldonado's 35 points was the most by an Estancia
player in the 17-year history of the tournament.
"I didn't even score a point when we played Laguna Beach (a 40-37 loss
on Dec. 6)," Maldonado said. "I was really off. It just meant that I had
to go practice more and I had to get the guys to work more as a team."
Amid Maldonado's Cinderella-like story, Estancia has been adjusting to
a season-ending injury to its star player, Micah Young, who tore an
anterior cruciate ligament. Maldonado and the Eagles regarded Young's
absence as a challenge.
"Many people didn't think our team would be good without Micah,"
Maldonado said. "But we, as a team, are really good and we're getting
better everyday. We took it as a challenge and we have responded.