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Aguilar stepped up for Mesa

Daily Pilot High School Athlete of the Week

Senior guard improved as season went on, helping Mustangs finish second in league and take back the Bell.

February 17, 2012|By Matt Szabo
(Kevin Chang / Daily…)

On both ends of the floor, Costa Mesa High senior girls' basketball player Nancy Aguilar came up huge.

She scored a game-high 21 points in the Mustangs' Orange Coast League finale at Estancia on Feb. 8. More important to Coach Nichole Maddox was the defense that Aguilar played on Estancia's best player, sophomore guard Celia Duran.

Duran erupted for 34 points the first time the teams played. The second time, she scored just 14. Credit Aguilar.

"I mean, I think [Duran] had one field goal," Maddox said. "Eleven of her points were off free throws. To say that someone who had 34 points the first game had one field goal the second game, all the credit goes to Nancy. Even more than her offense, her defense was the key in the game."

The Mustangs finally took back the Bell for the first time in four years. Without Aguilar, she and her teammates weren't going to be eating ribs at Newport Rib Co. after the game. But after Mesa earned a 47-35 win, everything was theirs — second place in league, the Bell and, last but not least, that rib dinner.

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"I needed that," Aguilar said. "I was hungry. It was a really proud moment for all of us. We worked so hard to get to that spot."

The Mustangs' shooting guard, the Daily Pilot Athlete of the Week, isn't kidding. Sure, the team's season ended earlier than it would have liked. The Mustangs were blown out at JSerra, 93-22, in the first round of the CIF Southern Section Division 4AA playoffs.

But consider that Mesa lost three of its top four scorers from last year. Annie Sturm and Itzel Flores graduated. Junior point guard Marilyn Armstrong missed this entire season due to sickness.

The Mustangs needed someone to step up. That someone was consistently Aguilar, who bumped her points per game from 6.4 last year to a team-best 11.5 this year.

In league Aguilar was even better, averaging 16.2 points per game. She made her mother, Adela Paleo, and stepfather, Roberto Sanchez, very proud watching from the stands.

"When she's on the floor she directs really well," Maddox said. "She loves the game of basketball, so she understands it, especially in her freestyle game of going to the basket."

Aguilar credits the team's three captains — senior point guard Marlene Castro, junior forward Molly Settles and senior center Noor Salameh — for their leadership. Aguilar is just happy she can still play the game she loves.

She said that wasn't the case last year once the team got to CIF. She was academically ineligible.

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