They heard it before the season began: Estancia this, Estancia that.
Costa Mesa, the defending Southern Section Division III champion, noticed--and took note.
"This was a statement," Costa Mesa Coach Lisa McNamee said after the Mustangs beat Estancia for the second time this season. "This was a big statement."
McNamee's team scored a 48-44 victory at Estancia and practically assured it will win another Pacific Coast League title.
Costa Mesa is 12-7, 6-0; Estancia, at one time ranked seventh in the county, is 15-4 overall but only 3-3 in league.
"The key is good scheduling," McNamee said, taking a swipe at Estancia's record by referring to her team's tougher nonleague schedule. "People underestimated us because we lost Olivia DiCamilli (to graduation), but we had a lot of kids back and a lot of kids at the lower levels that knew how to win."
It showed Thursday as Costa Mesa maintained a six- to 10-point lead for most of the game and made eight of nine free throws in the fourth quarter--15 of 19 overall--to hold off the Eagles' late rally. Estancia pulled to 46-44 on Jenny Jennings' three-pointer with 18 seconds left before Heather Robinson buried two free throws with 14 seconds to go.
Robinson led Costa Mesa with 17 points, but there was a strong supporting effort that included six-point, seven-rebound performances by Corri Lurmann and Doan Do, and Antoniette Banua's eight points.
"We had something to prove to a lot of people," McNamee said. "I'm glad people picked us as underdogs; I've used it as a motivational tool all year long."
Estancia got 11 points from Jessica Waltz and 10 from Laura Czingula. Both teams shot 28% from the field, but the Eagles made only 17 of 29 free throws.
In other league games:
Trabuco Hills 50, Century 40--Dyanna Hatch scored 14 points and had 12 rebounds and Jennifer Ross scored 13 for Trabuco Hills (11-10, 5-1). Nina Alexander scored 16 points for Century (10-9, 1-5).
Laguna Hills 41, Laguna Beach 26--Laguna Hills' 12-2 second-quarter scoring edge gave the Hawks (11-8, 3-3) a 20-7 halftime lead. Alina Meakin scored 15 for Laguna Beach (4-14, 0-6).