Edison High School of Huntington Beach will be treading on foreign turf when it faces Buena of Ventura in the 4-A championship at 8:45 tonight at Cal Poly Pomona.
Fact is, these title games have been a Buena tradition for 11 seasons. Edison is a gate-crasher at this point.
The Chargers have been among the Sunset League's top teams but have finally made it to the championship game. Edison made it as far as the quarterfinals in 1980.
Edison is 29-1 and was seeded fourth. Buena, the second-seeded team, is 26-1 and won the Channel League title for the 11th straight time this season.
For Buena, this will be the Bulldogs' fifth 4-A final appearance. They have won twice under Joe Vaughan, who has guided the team into the playoffs every year since he became the girls' coach in 1975.
"We've been seeing and reading about Buena for going on 10 years now," Edison Coach Dave White said. "We're honored to be playing them, but we're not going in with any awe or anything."
The game will match Kristi Smith of Edison and Teresa Palmisano of Buena, two of the top centers in the area. Smith averages 18 points and 10 rebounds a game, the best of any Charger.
Smith, a 6-foot 1-inch senior, transferred from Elsinore and has helped turn the Chargers from a good team into a title contender.
Palmisano, a 6-1 senior, has started for Vaughan for three seasons and is the team's top scorer and rebounder.
Stacee Johnson, a 5-9 junior forward, averages 11 points and 7.5 rebounds for Edison. Guard Denise Ogburn averages 10 points per game.
"(Guard) Michelle Hennessey and Ogburn are playing possessed, like there's no way we're going to lose," White said. "There's an extra spark in their eyes."
Especially, said White, since Edison rallied from 15 points behind to beat Compton in the quarterfinal game. Edison scored the final five points in the third quarter and the first 10 of the fourth to pull out the victory.
The Chargers also had to rally to beat Santa Barbara in the semifinal game Tuesday.
The Bulldogs have had few close games, except for an early-season loss to Lynwood.