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Maldonado magic for Eagles

Senior point guard might be a late bloomer, but her game speaks for itself.

February 18, 2011|By Matt Szabo, matthew.szabo@latimes.com
(Don Leach / Daily…)

Yesenia Maldonado watched the DVD her coach let her borrow last year.

The disc chronicles what might be called a magical time in Los Angeles sports history, albeit a time before the Estancia High senior was even born.

It all started with the 6-foot-9 point guard who's the subject of "Magic Johnson — Always Showtime." He was the best player for the Los Angeles Lakers in that "Showtime" era, leading them to five titles in the 1980s.

"I never realized how tall Magic was," Maldonado said. "I watched it and I saw all those crazy passes, but I saw how much a tall point guard can do. You can rebound, can shoot, can get steals, not just bring up the ball. It did inspire me."

Eagles Co-Coach Xavier Castellano wore out the same "Always Showtime" VHS cassette tape when his father, Miguel, gave it to him as a child. He said he gave her the DVD because he wanted Maldonado, the Eagles' tallest player at 5-11, to understand those advantages that come with her size.

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Castellano, 30, was and is a die-hard Lakers fan. Yesenia Maldonado, not so much.

"I really don't have a favorite team in the NBA," she said before noting that she loves Boston Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo, a no-no to any fan of the purple and gold.

Yet the love for Rondo, perhaps the best pure point guard in the league, says plenty. Maldonado has come a long way in her two years as a point guard for the Eagles.

The Daily Pilot Athlete of the Week averaged 11.5 points, five rebounds, 5.7 assists and 3.2 steals in the Orange Coast League this year for Estancia. The league leader in assists has stepped up for Estancia, which finished a perfect 10-0 in league to claim its first league crown in eight years.

Thursday's victory over CdM in the first round of the CIF Southern Section Division IV-A playoffs was also the Eagles' first playoff win since 2003. No. 12-seeded Estancia plays at No. 5 Duarte in the second round Saturday night. Whatever happens, Maldonado can be proud of this season.

Two years ago, you couldn't have told her she'd play point guard. But with Erika Soto suffering season-ending knee injuries each time, Maldonado took the reins, the first time in a CIF playoff game against JSerra in 2009.

Initially, she found it hard to both get her teammates the ball and be an offensive threat. On the team, she's known just as 'Y,' but she probably was just wondering why she was at the "one" spot.

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