The Hamilton High-San Pedro High matchup for the City 3-A girls' basketball championship looms as another of those forget-the-regular-season games, with both coaches saying the playoffs constitute a new season.
That's good for San Pedro, since it lost both times the teams met during league play.
"But they're a very fine team," Hamilton Coach Gary Pazzo said. "We played a real close game with them at their place and we just did a lot of things right in the last couple minutes to win. The second time, maybe they were having a bad day, and we had to win to make the playoffs."
The advantage to having faced a team already, of course, is that there can't be many surprises. San Pedro Coach Joseph Orona, for example, knows that his team must concentrate on its inside game and, for the most part, worry about stopping two Hamilton players.
Pazzo expects to use a full-court press often, as was the case during the regular season, and is also concerned about stopping San Pedro inside.
With that in mind, both coaches rate the 4 p.m. game at the Sports Arena as even.
"Basically, Hamilton has a good center (Andreana Cannon) and a good guard (Krystall Cade)," Orona said. "We're probably one of the most balanced teams in the 3-A. We have no stars, but eight good players."
One of those eight players, 6-foot forward Karyn Bolger, averaged 19 points and 16 rebounds a game during the season, so she stands out plenty to Hamilton.
Bolger and the Pirates' other forward, 5-10 Patti Pacheco, who had 19 rebounds in the semifinal victory and scored 12 points a game overall, figure to draw most of the defensive attention.
"The key to us beating Pedro is keeping Bolger from scoring," Pazzo said. "If we handle her, we should win."
San Pedro (18-8) hopes that eight is enough against Cannon, averaging 19 points and 12 rebounds, and Cade, averaging 18.4 points, 5 assists and 5 steals. But the improved play of junior forward Lolita Monroe, averaging 8 points and 10 rebounds, gives Hamilton an additional threat.
In getting past the first round for the first time in team history, Hamilton went 17-4 but had to forfeit five victories after using an ineligible player, so it goes into the title game with a 12-9 record.