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Girls' Basketball Dream Team: Duran, Bruening led special seasons

Estancia senior guard and CdM sophomore forward stand out, share Newport-Mesa Player of the Year award.

April 13, 2014|By Matt Szabo
  • Estancia senior Celia Duran and Corona del Mar sophomore Natalia Bruening share the Daily Pilot Dream Team Player of the Year award in girls' basketball.
Estancia senior Celia Duran and Corona del Mar sophomore… (SCOTT SMELTZER,…)

After Estancia High senior Celia Duran earned Newport-Mesa Girls' Basketball Player of the Year honors last year, she received congratulations from Corona del Mar sophomore Natalia Bruening.

The two players ran into each other at club basketball tryouts last spring. Soon, they were talking about being co-Players of the Year this year.

"We called it," Duran said with a smile.

Duran is a 5-foot-7 guard, while Bruening is a 6-foot-3 forward. While they played much different roles, both Duran and Bruening helped ensure big years for their respective squads.

And the two friends did indeed call it.

For their skills and leadership qualities, Duran and Bruening share the 2013-14 Daily Pilot Newport-Mesa Player of the Year award.

The numbers for Duran are a bit staggering. She scored 1,613 points and made 212 three-pointers in her four-year career, while helping Estancia win three Orange Coast League titles. The Eagles also went a combined 79-32 in her career, while they were just 19-76 in the four years before that.

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"It's special every time," Duran said of winning league again. "You would think, 'Oh it's the second one, oh, it's the third.' No, it's still just as great as the first one. It's a lot more difficult than the first one, because now you're the team to beat."

This year, Duran helped make it happen. She averaged an area-best 16.7 points per game, as well as 3.6 steals, 3.5 rebounds and three assists per game. She was the league MVP, marking her third straight first-team all-league selection. All this, while playing through a fractured left hand she suffered in the second league game against Costa Mesa.

Despite a second-round CIF Southern Section Division 3A playoff exit, the Eagles had a very strong year, finishing 24-4 and winning the CdM Tip-Off and Santiago tournaments. Duran, who plans to play at Santa Ana College next year, was named tournament MVP both times.

"It was just a crazy season, and a lot of it is Celia," Estancia Co-Coach Xavier Castellano said. "She got other girls open, she made timely shots. She wasn't scared of anything. When she walks into the gym, she doesn't look like a basketball player. But she led our school, Estancia, with no one over 6 feet on our team, to 24 wins against some really good teams."

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