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Mustangs fall short at end

BASKETBALL: Costa Mesa girls' team loses, 49-48, to San Ramon Valley in opener of its tournament.

December 28, 2006|By Matt Szabo

COSTA MESA — After watching his Costa Mesa High girls' basketball team commit 29 turnovers, Coach Jim Weeks had a right to be disappointed.

Instead, he saw plenty of positives, even after the Mustangs fell, 49-48, to San Ramon Valley in the first round of their Costa Mesa Winter Classic on Wednesday at Costa Mesa High.

The Mustangs came oh so close.

With the Mustangs down three, Michelle Figueroa grabbed the ball and dribbled the length of the court, banking in a runner in the lane as the buzzer sounded.

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Figueroa and a San Ramon Valley defender went crashing to the floor, but no foul was called and the game ended with Costa Mesa a point short.

Weeks decided to still concentrate on the positives. After all, his team was playing a Danville-based CIF North Coast Section champion from a year ago. And, even if the turnovers frustrated Weeks, he was happy that his team kept pushing the ball all night long against a tough press defense.

"I really liked the energy we played with," Weeks said. "That's a good step forward for us, to be able to play them that hard."

Costa Mesa (3-7), which plays Citrus Hills today at 1:30 p.m. in consolation bracket action, battled back from an 11-point fourth-quarter deficit against San Ramon Valley (3-6). The Mustangs tied the score at 46-all on Figueroa's free throw with 10 seconds left.

But then Costa Mesa was called for an intentional foul as the Wolves brought the ball past midcourt, giving San Ramon Valley two shots and the ball. The Wolves' Kelly Wiese made both free throws and, after a Costa Mesa foul, Mary Kate Tengler made another from the charity stripe.

Tengler missed the second free throw with seven seconds to go, setting up Figueroa's final shot.

Figueroa, a junior who has been battling the flu, didn't start but scored a game-high 17 points and recorded five steals. Senior center Jennifer Courtney had 14 points and 18 rebounds for the Mustangs.

Jasmine Werdel scored nine points for Costa Mesa, and Amy Gentling scored six — including consecutive fourth-quarter jumpers to help ignite the rally.

The Mustangs did a much better job breaking the press in the fourth quarter than the previous three, when they often had trouble getting the ball past half-court.

"We've been struggling with [turnovers]," Weeks said. "When we pick up the pace, we're not able to think at that same pace that we're physically playing. When we get that down, too, then we're really going to gel. It's a matter of maturity and experience.

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