2013 All-Area Boys Basketball Team: Cantwell Sacred Heart’s Jose Estrada tops Whittier Daily News picks

Cantwell High School’s Jose Estrada, who was selected as the Daily News boys basketball player of the year, at Cantwell High School in Montebello. (Keith Durflinger / Staff photographer)

Photo gallery: 2013 Whittier Daily News All-Area Basketball Team

Player of the Year: JOSE ESTRADA, Cantwell Sacred Heart forward, Senior

Jose Estrada ended his Cantwell Sacred Heart High School basketball career in impressive style.

The senior forward averaged 18.3 points per game in leading the Cardinals to the Camino Real League crown and a 20-10 overall record. He also sported averages of 6.1 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.1 steals per contest.

Estrada, who helped guide the Cardinals to last season’s CIF-Southern Section Division 4A championship game, nearly put together a repeat performance in lifting Cantwell to a Division 4A semifinal appearance. The Cardinals, who lost to Pacific Hills 65-42 in last year’s 4A final, nearly ousted the defending champion Bruins in the semifinals but fell short in a 52-51 defeat.

The Cardinals, because of their CIF-SS playoff run, qualified for the CIF State Division 4 tournament. Estrada ended his season on a strong note, scoring 23 points to lead the Cardinals in a 62-49 first-round loss to Army/Navy Academy.

For his efforts, Estrada was named the Daily News boys basketball player of the year for the second consecutive season.

Estrada, a transfer from Mexico who joined the Cardinals as a junior, said that one of his greatest moments he experienced from the 2012-13 season was his final regular season home game against league foe St. Paul.

With the league crown at stake, Estrada scored 30 points, pulled down seven rebounds and recorded seven assists to lead the Cardinals (9-1 in league) to a 76-46 victory over the Swordsmen. The triumph marked sweet revenge for Estrada and the Cardinals, who lost the first meeting to St. Paul 53-48. Estrada missed that game because of a hyperextended knee.

“It was very memorable because it was my senior night,” said Estrada of the win over St. Paul. “That’s why I played so good in that game.”

Another one of Estrada’s standout performances came in the Division 4A quarterfinals against St. Anthony. He scored a game-high 29 points to lift the Cardinals to a 62-58 win.

Estrada also recorded a season-high 38 points in a 56-51 triumph against El Cerrito.

Cardinals coach George Zedan praised Estrada’s prowess and ability on the court.

“Jose is a program-changer – there are no other words to describe it,” Zedan said. “He has the ability to score, the ability to pass and the ability to be such a presence on the court. It opens up things for the other guys. We appreciate the fact that we had him for a couple of years.”

Estrada played soccer before switching his focus to basketball.

“At first, I played soccer,” Estrada said. “Soccer is just for fun but basketball is more challenging. I decided to play basketball because it shows how you really are.”

Two of Estrada’s favorite memories occurred last year when the Cardinals advanced to the Division 4A final and when he scored 50 points in Cantwell’s 82-62 win over Ontario Christian in the 4A semifinals.

“I never experienced that in my life,” Estrada said of the Cardinals’ 2011-12 championship game appearance. “It was great.”

He added on the victory over Ontario Christian, “We were losing at the half and we really wanted to win. In the second half, I played like it was my last game.”

Estrada, who is considering the University of Hawaii and Washington State among other colleges, enjoyed his experiences with the Cardinals.

“They are like a family,” Estrada said of his teammates. “I want to thank all the people who supported me. The teachers and the community have always been there for me.”

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  • St. Paul 29

    Why is all CIF Josiah Corona on the second team? Does not make any sense!