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Eagles outlast rivals

Estancia finishes perfect in Orange Coast League after taking care of Costa Mesa on Mustangs' court.

February 10, 2011|By Matt Szabo, matthew.szabo@latimes.com

COSTA MESA — With chaos all around her, Estancia High senior point guard Yesenia Maldonado stayed calm.

Trying to finish off an undefeated Orange Coast League season in a hostile gym, Maldonado didn't fret.

When the Eagles' leading scorer, Kassie Stratton, picked up three fouls in the first quarter, Maldonado stayed patient.

And, after Estancia had secured a 51-46 victory at cross-town rival Costa Mesa and got to ring the bell at mid-court, it was all worth it to the unassuming Maldonado.

"It's exciting," Maldonado said after scoring 17 points, her second-highest total of the season, to go along with 10 rebounds and six steals. "Oh my God. 10-0?"

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The scene was perfect to all five key members of the Eagles' senior class, including Maldonado, Stratton, Brenda Soto, Jenny Boldizar and Vanessa Stafford. The Eagles made sure they were perfect too, finishing 10-0 in league after already clinching their first league title in eight years.

Co-Coach Xavier Castellano couldn't stop smiling for the team, or the point guard after one of her best games of the season in the second Battle for the Bell game.

"She has to put up with me," said Castellano, who played for Estancia before graduating in 1998. "I played point guard, so I expect the most out of her. And she's only been playing point guard for two years. Personally, I think she's the best point guard in the league. She led us today.

"Her, Brenda [Soto] and Kassie [Stratton] are captains. It's senior leadership."

Estancia (20-6) and second-place Costa Mesa (12-14, 7-3 in league) both advance to the CIF playoffs. Brackets will be released Sunday.

It was senior night at Costa Mesa High and the Mustangs played the familiar NCAA Tournament song, "One Shining Moment," during the senior introductions. For nearly the whole game, the Mustangs looked like they might be perfection-busters if not bracket-busters. They pushed the Eagles as they hadn't been pushed before in league.

The Eagles led, 15-7, after the first quarter but Stratton, who finished with a game-high 22 points, 10 rebounds and six steals, already had three fouls. She watched from the bench in the second quarter as her trend of missing big chunks of Costa Mesa games continued.

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