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Girls' Basketball: Mathis leads Mustangs

Junior forward steps up on offense, defense as Mesa stuns defending champ Estancia in league opener.

January 14, 2014|By Matt Szabo
  • Costa Mesa High's Aubriona Mathis (32), who finished with 18 points, scores in front of Estancia's Lehua Alama-Jordan during an Orange Coast League game on Tuesday at Costa Mesa.
Costa Mesa High's Aubriona Mathis (32), who finished… (Don Leach, Daily…)

Crazy things tend to happen when Estancia High visits Costa Mesa in girls' basketball.

The Eagles barely earned one-point wins each of the past two seasons in the Mustangs' gym. And on Tuesday night in the Orange Coast League opener for both teams, Estancia nearly came back from a 12-point deficit with three minutes left.

This time, the Mustangs finally had an answer.

Her name was Aubriona Mathis.

The junior scored a season-high 18 points and also stepped up defensively, helping Costa Mesa earn a 67-64 victory in the first Battle for the Bell game.

One more win on Feb. 4 at Estancia, and the Mustangs can make sure that they ring the bell for the second time in three years.

"It's always close," Costa Mesa Coach Nichole Maddox said. "I don't need any more gray hairs, I'm too young for that. My kids just had heart and they didn't stop. They made sure that they got a 'W' today."

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It was a dominant effort from the Mustangs (9-7), who never trailed after the first quarter. They also received 14 points from senior point guard Danielle Obong, and 13 points from senior forward Alexa Loredo before she fouled out early in the fourth quarter. Senior forward Jacqueline Guerrero added eight points in the Mustangs' balanced attack.

The tough Obong took a hard fall in the fourth quarter and got up limping but stayed in the game. She also made two of her team's four three-pointers.

"I airballed some," Obong said. "Just keep shooting, that's what my coach says. This game really boosted up our confidence. If we play how we did tonight, we can beat any team."

Estancia (14-3), the defending league champion which is off to its best start in recent years and is ranked No. 5 in CIF Southern Section Division 3-A, was led by senior guard Celia Duran. Last year's Newport-Mesa Player of the Year matched her season average by also scoring 18 points, and added a game-high seven steals. But she was defended well by Mathis throughout the game.

"It was a quiet 18, right?" Maddox said. "Aubriona did a really good job playing defense on her."

Costa Mesa also received nine points in the fourth quarter from sophomore Katherine Lawrence, helping the hosts hold off the charging Eagles. Duran did begin to heat up. In a 33-second span, she made a pair of three-pointers. The second one cut Costa Mesa's lead to 65-63 with a minute to go.

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