The Foothill High School girls' basketball team looked strong before the 1984-85 season began. The Knights, who had advanced to the Southern Section 3-A final the previous season, were ranked No. 1 in Orange County.
But just four games into the season, Foothill lost to Brea-Olinda in the championship game of the Wildcats' Christmas tournament, 57-53.
Brea went on to post a 29-0 record, but Foothill lost twice more in its next six games.
"The worst came against Loara in the Cypress tournament," Foothill Coach Sheila Adams said. "The team didn't play together, everybody was getting on everybody else, it was just horrible."
The Loara loss was the Knights' last, though.
And so, Foothill (27-3) will have a chance to redeem itself when it faces Brea-Olinda in the 3-A final, starting at 7 tonight in the Long Beach Arena.
"I think we got a little complacent because we had done so well last year," Adams said. "All the preseason publicity didn't help. I think we're peaking at the right time. The team realizes it has to go out and beat other teams. It can't depend on its reputation."
Brea Coach Mark Trakh, who guided the Wildcats to the 2-A final last season, said there was never any doubt in his mind that Brea would meet Foothill for the championship.
"It was just a matter of time before they got everything together," Trakh said. "In fact, they should have won the game that we beat them. We got real lucky down the stretch."
The rematch figures to be an interesting matchup between Brea, a running team, and Foothill, a physical team.
"Foothill outsizes us at every position," Trakh said. "Chris McFerson (Foothill center) should play us every game. She averages 22 points against us, and averages about eight against everyone else. We have to keep the tempo up against them and hope they don't get the ball inside."
Adams said: "We're dead if Brea gets its running game going.