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Esperanza stays calm, collects share of Crestview title

STAFF WRITER

ANAHEIM – On the surface, fifth-ranked Esperanza is a young team, with just three seniors on the roster.

The Aztecs proved again Friday night that looks can be deceiving, as they pulled out a hard-fought 64-57 victory over visiting Villa Park in a Crestview League game.

The victory clinched at least a share of the title for the Aztecs (18-7, 4-0).

“We’re all pretty much sophomores and juniors, and we’ve made some great strides since Christmas,” Esperanza coach Mark Hill said.

That growth helped the Aztecs keep their composure down the stretch against the Spartans (15-10, 1-3).

After Jared Obermeier made a 3-pointer that gave the Aztecs a 55-52 lead, Isaiah Williams responded to tie the score for Villa Park.

Later, Obermeier again sank an open 3-point field goal to give the Aztecs the lead for good, 60-57.

“Everybody has to step up and everybody did that today,” Obermeier said. “We’ve been doing that the whole season and that’s why we’re undefeated (in league).”

After Obermeier’s second 3, the Aztecs relied on defense and free-throw making to put the game away.

Kezie Okpala led the Aztecs with 24 points. Brendan Harrick had 18 and Obermeier added 12.

Evan Battey led the Spartans with 15 points.

The game was tied 47-47 entering the fourth quarter.

“We did the little things,” Hill said. “We guarded well at the end of the game, we got the rebounds and made the right plays on offense.

“This team kind of lacked leadership at the beginning of the year, but it has been a different guy stepping up at different times. There were a lot of guys contributing to this win.”

Esperanza hosts Foothill on Tuesday and ends the regular season at Canyon on Thursday.

Villa Park has games against Canyon (Tuesday) and Foothill (Thursday) to end the regular season.

Contact the writer: dcalhoun@ocregister.com


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