SAN DIEGO — In last year's San Diego Section girls' 3-A basketball championship game, Sewell Dunton, Mount Miguel coach, took the stance many coaches take when they face Point Loma: Just try not to get blown out of the gym.
For most teams, there is no other practical goal. Point Loma is ranked No. 1 in the state by Cal-Hi Sports. The Pointers have won three straight section and state titles. And with All-American Terri Mann, Point Loma has won 118 of its last 119 games.
This year, Vista has the task of playing the Pointers in the section final. But Vista Coach Joe DeMaria isn't talking about keeping the score to fewer than 30 points. DeMaria is talking about winning.
"To win this game, we have to do a good job on two of their three scorers," DeMaria said. "Last time we played them, we kept Mann to 17 points, but (Monica) Filer and (Liza) Carillo scored over 20 points."
Unlike a lot of teams in San Diego County, Vista has not experienced Point Loma's domination year-in and year-out.
This season was the first in DeMaria's four years at Vista that the Panthers faced Point Loma. And by Point Loma standards, Vista didn't do half bad.
Vista is 26-2, with both losses coming to the Pointers. Vista lost by 64-42 and 60-40. DeMaria thinks the Panthers can improve on those results.
"We're a young team getting better and better," DeMaria said. "We are playing our best ball of the year right now."
Vista will have to.
Point Loma (33-0) disposed of Mount Carmel, 67-27, in the semifinals. Mann has averaged more than 30 points and nearly 30 rebounds a game.
Point Loma's strength primarily lies in two seniors, Mann and Carillo, who have plenty of playoff experience. Contrasting Point Loma's experience is Vista, whose hopes may lie in the play of three sophomores.
Vista's inside game is led by center Chris Enger, 15, who is 6-feet 4-inches tall. Enger is averaging 22 points and 10 rebounds a game. The other sophomore players who will have to have an impact are forward Dana Christofferson and guard Kelli Schott.
But DeMaria said the championship game will belong to the Pointers if the Panthers cannot at least slow Mann down.