The bell rang once more this year, not at Jim Scott Stadium, but at Estancia High’s gym. As the buzzer rang for the end of the fourth quarter of play, all eyes and ears focused on center court for the ringing of the bell. Honoring an annual tradition, the victorious Costa Mesa Mustangs lined up to ring their bell.
At the start of the game, both sides of the gymnasium were filled in anticipation of this rivalry game. Estancia had already won the first match-up at Costa Mesa’s home gym (53-50) and to win the bell, the Eagles only had to win the game or make sure Mesa’s margin of victory did not surpass three points. Shocked from the league-opener upset against Estancia, the Mustangs were ready to protect their claim to the bell.
Playing hard defense, the Mustangs were able to keep the Eagles’ scoring at bay. Estancia’s leading scorer, Josh Mendoza, was still able to hit four 3-pointers, but was held to 14 points. Costa Mesa shared the ball, having four players scoring double-digit points. This carried over to the scoreboard as the visiting team was able to win by a 16-point margin.
During Halftime, the competitors took a break from play as Estancia honored its athletes from all the way back to 1967. A red carpet was laid across the court, as their names were read to be honored. Among their ranks included former NFL players, lawyers, and entrepreneurs.
In the beginning of the second half, the game got more physical. Players from both teams received fouls as defense got more aggressive. Even with the more physical play, the result could not be changed. Around the two-minute mark, Head Coach for Costa Mesa, Mike Molina, put in his bench players. The end result was 68-52. The Mustangs had held unto the bell for the third straight year. When asked about winning the Bell for the third year in a row for his team, Kyle said, “It feels pretty good, knowing that you’ve been playing with so many people and you’re able to win with different kinds of players on your team. I’m so glad that I’m here at Mesa winning it three times in a row. I hope that we can keep that tradition going.”
After the game, the Mustangs went to the Newport Rib Company to eat barbeque ribs, awarded to the winner of the game. For the Mustangs, the victory, was literally sweet.