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Mesa swats rivals’ hopes

Mustangs earn first Orange Coast League win, crushing Estancia’s chance at a share of the league championship.

February 10, 2010|By David Carrillo Peñaloza

COSTA MESA — Outside of the six balls Andrew Albers swatted away, the best block Wednesday belonged to his boys’ basketball team.

Costa Mesa High blocked rival Estancia from winning the Orange Coast League championship. The Mustangs ruined the Eagles’ night after pulling off a 46-43 upset and recording their first league victory.

The Mustangs waited until the regular-season finale to win in league. Inside a packed gym, Albers played a huge role in sending the Eagles home dejected after failing to claim their first league crown in five seasons.

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The 6-foot-7, 265-pound center finished with 10 points, 14 rebounds, and he should’ve had seven blocks if not for a call late that prevented the Eagles from potentially tying the game.

Albers said he blocked Raymond Holmes’ three-pointer with 20.8 seconds left. The officials didn’t agree, and Albers didn’t argue after the ball went out of bounds.

The Mustangs gained possession and were on their way to winning a game for the first time since Dec. 30. Costa Mesa (3-22, 1-7 in league) wasn’t able to win the Battle for the Bell, but it did end a 10-game skid with the help of seven three-pointers.

Estancia (15-11, 5-3), which won the first game of the two-game series, defended the trophy after the points from both games were totaled and the Eagles won by eight.

“They did ring the bell, but we knocked them out of first place,” said Albers, who with a smile watched the not-so-happy Eagles ring the bell at midcourt after the game.

“I wouldn’t say [this was our] championship game, but it definitely makes the season a little bit better after all what we’ve been through. It was everything to us, really.”

The game meant a lot to both sides.

All Estancia needed to do was beat Costa Mesa to at least clinch a share of the league title with Laguna Beach. Both teams entered the night tied for first place.

When Laguna Beach beat Godinez, 48-38, the Eagles’ league-title run was over. The Breakers claimed the title for the fourth straight season and Estancia finished tied for second place with Calvary Chapel.

This was the Eagles’ last chance to split the title before entering the CIF Southern Section Division IV-AA playoffs next week. Coach Agustin Heredia said he was extremely disappointed with the finish, but it wasn’t the hardest loss he’s suffered in his three seasons as coach.

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