Although Tim O'Brien is the third coach for Estancia High School in the past five years, little else has changed in the Eagles' basketball program.
Estancia remains a relatively small team of overachievers that relies on hustle, poise and free throw shooting to win. The formula was never more evident than Wednesday night when the Eagles beat Los Alamitos, 53-49, in the second round of the Costa Mesa-Newport Harbor tournament at Costa Mesa.
Estancia (2-0) made six of eight free throws in the last quarter, including two shots by sophomore Augustin Heredia with 1:11 remaining, to hold off a Los Alamitos rally. Center Chris Rupsa helped secure the victory with two baskets in the final 23 seconds.
Estancia, which advanced to the semifinals of the 15-team tournament, will meet Saddleback at 8 tonight at Costa Mesa. Saddleback advanced with an 89-60 victory over Eisenhower.
"I'm excited," O'Brien said. "There isn't a varsity player back from last year. Most of those guys came up from the sophomore team with the exception of Heredia, who played on the freshman team. That was a great win."
This summer, O'Brien switched to Estancia from Tustin, where he left behind a veteran team and a 35-16 record in two seasons. But he said the opportunity to build a year-round program at Estancia was too good to pass up.
"The great success that Estancia has had over the years was also a factor in deciding to move," he said. "The players have a sense of pride and tradition. You can see it in their eyes and feel it in close games."
Mike Curtis, who led all scorers with 22 points, should know something about the Eagles' storied tradition. His older brother, Rick, was a standout guard for Estancia several years ago and led the Eagles to the 3-A division championship game in 1984.
Los Alamitos, second in the Empire League last season, was led by center Dre Lamoureux and guard Brett Pagett with 17 points each. Lamoureux also had 12 rebounds, and Pagett scored three, three-point field goals.
In other Costa Mesa-Newport Harbor tournament games:
La Quinta 73, University 62--Arri Buford scored a game-high 22 points and teammate Scott Campbell added 18 points for the Aztecs. La Quinta built a 37-22 lead at halftime and coasted to its second straight victory. The Aztecs meet Mater Dei in a semifinal game.
Mater Dei 82, La Quinta JV 24--Char Ruppel scored 22 points and Derek Stone and Dylan Rigdon each scored 14 to lead the Monarchs to the victory. Mater Dei led, 41-11, at the half. La Quinta was led by Han Ho, Tu Chang and Wes Kollar who each scored six points.
Newport Harbor 61, San Marcos 32--Mike Hardin scored 12 points and teammate Tyler Koon added 14 for the Sailors (1-1). Newport Harbor, which plays Glenn at 6:15 today in the consolation semifinals.
Saddleback 89, Eisenhower 60--Junior forward Malru Dottin scored 12 of the Roadrunners' opening 20 points as they coasted in their season opener after drawing a bye in the first round of the tournament.
Saddleback opened a 20-5 lead in the first quarter and was never threatened as Dottin had 16 of his game-high 22 points by halftime. Every Saddleback starter scored in double figures, but the Roadrunners made only 13 of 25 free throws.
In the Garden Grove tournament:
Fullerton 48, Pacifica 29--Alan Lewis scored 11 points and Dave Sawyer 10 for Fullerton (1-0), which will play Laguna Hills tonight at 7:30 in one semifinal. Both teams struggled early as Fullerton led, 4-3, at the end of the first quarter and, 29-9, at the half.
Western 77, Garden Grove 43--Joe Romero scored 15 points and Joe Armenta and Chris Bowen 12 each for Western (2-0), which advances to Friday's final at 8 p.m. against the winner of the Fullerton/Laguna Hills game.
Steve Sylvester and Ronnie Rhines scored 11 points each for Garden Grove (0-1).
In nonleague games:
Buena Park 86, Magnolia 74--Gary Hunter scored 33 points and Kevin Graddy had 29 to lead Buena Park (1-0) at home. Hunter, a senior guard, also led the Coyotes in rebounds with eight. Graddy, a senior center, had six rebounds. Magnolia's Mike Goff's led all scorers with 33 points.
Marina 62, Cypress 52--Forward Steve Guild scored 18 points and had 5 rebounds to lead the Vikings at home. Guard David Yamate had 14 points, and freshman center Cherokee Parks added 11 points and 5 rebounds for Marina (1-0). Bond Weaver led Cypress (0-1) with 19 points.
Savanna 74, Santiago 37--Eric Shinkle, a 6-9 center, scored 16 points and had 10 rebounds to lead the Rebels at home. Forward Tim Tillman added 10 points and had 8 rebounds. Savanna (1-0) led, 38-20, at the half, and had 12 players score. Leroy Fellows led Santiago with 22 points.
Lakewood 96, Servite 65--Elijah Anderson scored 17 points and Brian Camper added 13 to lead Lakewood at home. The Lancers had 12 players score. Servite (1-1) was led by guard Brian Kenney's game-high 26 points. Center Nick Marusich had 21 points.
In the Orange Lutheran tournament:
Trabuco Hills, 87, Southern California Christian 49--Teddy Colburn, a senior guard, scored 23 points and teammate Rick Swanwick added 15 points as the Mustangs were successful in Coach Rainer Wulf's debut. John Barnes scored 13 points for Trabuco Hills, which held a 23-point lead after three quarters of play.
In the Valencia tournament:
Westminster 60, Sonora 47--Chris Tower, a 6-10 center, scored 24 points and teammates Peter Nguyen and Eric Kotas 14 each for Westminster (1-0). Westminster plays El Modena in one semifinal at 6:15 Friday. Geoff Crow scored 14 and Grayle Humphrey 10 for Sonora (1-1).
Irvine 43, Rosemead 42--Jerry Petersen scored 23 points and Raphael Molle added 10 points as new Coach Steve Keith gained a victory in his Irvine debut. The Vaqueros advanced to the semifinals where they will meet tournament host Valencia at 8 p.m. Friday.
El Modena 59, Troy 57--Robbie Pietfch and Nate Bogan scored 14 points each for the Vanguards. Mike Hanna led Troy with 18 points.