Girls' Basketball: Eagles still own bell

Van Den Heever, Garnett lead Estancia to win over Costa Mesa, and closer to defending league title.

February 04, 2014|By Matt Szabo
  • Estancia High teammates celebrate with Slade Garnett (21) after beating Costa Mesa during the Battle for the Bell on Tuesday.
Estancia High teammates celebrate with Slade Garnett… (SCOTT SMELTZER,…)

They say that everything is bigger in Texas.

In Texas, though, Estancia High junior Slade Garnett didn't have the chance to ring a bell after a girls' basketball game.

Garnett, who transferred to Estancia from Texas last June, made sure she had the opportunity to do so Tuesday night at home.

There was the season-high 20 points. There was the defensive job on Costa Mesa's top scorer.

In the end, Garnett perhaps had the most fun of anyone after the Eagles beat cross-town rival Costa Mesa, 64-50, winning the girls' basketball Battle for the Bell series for the fifth time in six years.

"It's awesome, said Garnett, a big smile on her face, after the game. "We don't do this in Texas, so it's super-fun."


The teams split their two meetings this year, but Estancia keeps the bell since Tuesday's margin of victory was greater than Mesa's 67-64 win in the Orange Coast League opener on Jan. 14.

Perhaps more importantly for the Eagles, who were led by sophomore point guard Maya Van Den Heever and her 23 points, they moved closer to defending their outright league crown. Estancia (20-3, 6-1 in league), ranked No. 6 in CIF Southern Section Division 3A, controls its own destiny with three league games to go.

Laguna Beach (5-2 in league) remains in second place. Costa Mesa (12-10, 4-3 in league) dropped into a tie for third with Godinez after Tuesday's loss.

Estancia Co-Coach Xavier Castellano shrugged when asked what it meant to keep the bell.

"We kind of get caught up in the whole Mesa-Estancia rivalry," he said. "I tell our girls, our goal is to win every league game and win a league championship. Maybe that's my fault, that I don't put that much emphasis on the bell ... We've won it the last five out of six years. I mean, it's great, but we want to win league and we want to go far in the playoffs."

The game was close for most of the first three quarters. Costa Mesa senior guard Danielle Obong scored seven quick points to open the second half, giving Costa Mesa a 33-28 lead. But Estancia rallied back, behind big shots from Garnett.

"My shots were just falling," Garnett said. "I decided to be more bold this game and just go for it. I didn't want to hold back. I really wanted to win."

She was fouled on a three-pointer from the corner, making two free throws to cut the Mesa lead to two points. Then, she nailed a three-pointer from the same corner to give the Eagles the lead back.

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