Carolyn Montgomery believes in flower power.
The Compton High School girls' basketball coach has worn an artificial red rose in her lapel every game this season--save one--and she hopes her good-luck charm will work one more time when the Lady Babes take on Muir tonight at 8:45 in the Southern Section's 4-A championship game at the Long Beach Arena.
"I wore the rose at the start of the season because it matched an outfit I have, but when we kept winning I kept wearing it," Montgomery said. "However, the other night I couldn't find it. I panicked. I looked all over the house. So, I finally grabbed a blue rose and put it on.
"Then when I got to the game, I kept thinking, 'What if we lose?' So I just put it in my pocket. When I got home (after a game Compton won, anyway), I turned the house upside down again and found the red rose. It was a relief."
Montgomery and her charges do not rely on superstition alone, however. The Lady Babes are ranked No. 1 in the section and have a 25-0 record, including a 42-39 victory over Muir (24-1) in December.
Compton's starting five includes 6-foot forward Kim Thompson and 5-8 guard Felicia Benson, two of the best players in Southern California. Thompson is averaging 16 points and 9 rebounds. Benson is averaging 18 points and also spearheads a defense that gives up fewer than 40 points a game.
Muir, which lost to Buena in the final last year, has come a long way since December.
"We graduated two starting guards, who are both at Division I schools, and everyone said we were done," Muir Coach Archie Newton said. "So putting this together was a Band-Aid kind of thing. It was nice because no one expected it. The girls are playing extremely well now, with confidence and poise."
Two of Muir's best are Pasadena's version of the Twin Towers, juniors Jeanine and Pauline Jordan. Jeanine, a 6-2 forward, averages 17 points and 12 rebounds a game, complementing her 6-3 twin, who is averaging 18 points and 15 rebounds.
Newton hasn't devised a strategy to neutralize Montgomery's flower, but he admits to having a few tricks up his sleeve.
"We hope to show them a few new wrinkles on defense," Newton said. "And we hope that it might confuse them for a while. Plus, we've made some adjustments offensively since the last time we played.
"But they've got excellent players and she (Montgomery) does a good job of coaching. I think it's going to be a very close game."