If the Brea-Olinda High School basketball team can avoid visiting Ontario next season, it would please Wildcat Coach Gene Lloyd.
Give the emotional wounds some time to heal.
The Wildcats' 1984-85 season ended at Ontario High School, when Montclair upset them in the first round of the CIF Southern Section 3-A division playoffs.
Of all places, Brea (25-5) had to wind up in Ontario again for Wednesday night's playoff semifinal against Ganesha (28-1).
In front of a standing-room-only crowd of about 2,500, the Giants beat the Wildcats, 95-77, to ensure that Ontario will always have a place in the Wildcats' Hall of Infamy.
"I hate Ontario," Lloyd said afterward, only half joking. "I think it's a terrible place to play basketball."
In fact, Brea gave a decent account of itself, but the Giants were simply superb. They had height, discipline and speed, not to mention an 82% free-throw shooting performance (27 of 33).
That alone was something new to Brea, which had outshot and its three previous playoff opponents from the line 75% to 51%. The Wildcats made 68% (15 of 22) Wednesday.
"We finally ran into somebody who could shoot free throws," Lloyd said. "We've been playing some terrible free-throw shooting teams, but this was not one of them."
In the first half, when Ganesha took a 43-35 lead, the Giants made 13 of 14 free throws (93%).
But that wasn't where Brea, which was 13 of 17 (76%) at the line, lost ground. Ganesha's margin resulted from 12 Wildcat turnovers, in contrast to 7 by the Giants.
"It was an exciting game," Lloyd said. "But what made it more exciting were the things we couldn't let happen.
"The tempo got out of sync for us. There's no way we can afford to give up 95 points and win."
The Giants' transition game snapped up turnovers and converted them to points at a dizzying rate, which seemed to accelerate in the third quarter when Brea's offense lagged.
The Wildcats went scoreless for nearly four minutes between Doug Dossey's jumper to open the third quarter and one by Kevin Walker with 4:04 remaining. In the meantime, the Giants went on a 10-0 spurt for a 55-37 lead.
The Giants hadn't had much luck in discouraging the prolific 6-foot 10-inch Walker in the first half, when he scored 18 points against their box-and-one defense.
But Ganesha Coach Larry Anderson took Shane Palmer off Walker and gave the assignment to Antonio Johnson, who bears a distinct resemblance in style and stature to Charles Barkley.
Walker, who has signed a letter of intent with UCLA, had only four points in the third quarter. However, his overall performance was outstanding as he finished with 32 points and 15 rebounds.
Even that wasn't enough against the Giants, however.
"Our kids were mentally and physically ready," Anderson said. "We had talked about playing a box-and-one against Walker. He is an awesome ballplayer, but I did not think one player could beat our team."
That is no insult to Brea, the Orange League champions.
"The best team won," Lloyd said. "I'm not sure they aren't the best team left (in the playoffs) at any level."
Ganesha's only loss was by a point and the Giants have gone to the playoffs in six of Anderson's seven years as coach.
But Ganesha let down and started playing garbage ball in the fourth quarter and Brea edged back into the game with 2:34 left when a fast break layup by Vincent Francis brought the Wildcats to within 12 points at 83-71.
Anderson called a timeout and the Giants returned to the court slightly sobered to crush the rally.
Leading Ganesha were twins Donald and David English, who will attend Cal on football scholarships. Donald, the forward who averages 14.5 points a game, outdid himself with 28, while Ronald, the guard, scored 18.
The Giants' giant, 6-8 center Kevin Cutler, who has signed a basketball letter of intent to attend Cal State Fullerton, scored 23.
Lloyd said the Wildcats' season even exceeded his expectations.
"This team is far better than a lot of people expected us to be," he said. "We've become even better than I expected us to be.
"As far as Walker goes, he's in another stratosphere. In my 12 years of coaching, I don't think there's been anyone like him in North Orange County and only a handful in the entire county."
Forward Mike Tousey rebounded well for Brea and was second in scoring with 14.