It was only two months ago that Bill Shannon, Woodbridge High School boys' basketball coach, was bemoaning his team's 6-5 record.
The Warriors had just returned from the prestigious Las Vegas tournament where they lost three of four games to some very tough teams: Santa Ana; Louisville Ballard, the second-ranked team in Kentucky, and Rancho Las Vegas, the second-ranked team in Nevada.
"I know this isn't going to do much for my career record," said Shannon, who has a 63% winning record since starting the program in 1982. "But I take pride in the fact that we schedule some of the toughest teams. It's a trade-off that I hope will help us in the end."
Evidently, it seems to be working. Woodbridge (18-5), the defending state Division II and Southern Section 2-A champion, hasn't lost a game since.
The Warriors, who will play the winner of today's wild-card game between Elsinore and Calexico, enter the 2-A playoffs as the third-seeded team behind top-seeded Banning (25-0) and San Bernardino (25-1).
But some 2-A coaches believe that Woodbridge, led by All-American 6-foot 9-inch center Adam Keefe, can successfully defend its 2-A title.
"They're very good to the extent that they play some of the top-rated schools, take their lumps and use it to their advantage," said Banning Coach Stan Smith. "We'd love to meet them again after last year (when Woodbridge defeated Banning, 68-60, in the 2-A final). They're for real. We'd love to have another crack at them."
If that happens, it won't be until the championship game March 5, as the teams are in separate playoff brackets. La Canada (23-2), Bloomington (20-4) and San Bernardino, which was eliminated by Banning in last year's quarterfinals, share the lower bracket with Woodbridge.
Said San Bernardino Coach Scott Kay: "Right now, we're just concentrating on Friday's game (against the winner of the South Hills-Arroyo game). But if I have to look down the line, Woodbridge, being the defending champs and with an outstanding man in the middle, is one of a lot of teams capable of winning. But, like always, a lot of it will come down to luck."
Which, according to Shannon, is something Woodbridge might have going for it as well.
"If anyone's into superstition and numerology, they can look at the number of losses we had going into CIF last year (five) and compare it to how many we have this year (five).
"I'll tell you, I'll be a happy man if I finish this season with five losses."
Laguna Hills (16-9) and Laguna Beach (9-14) are the only other Orange County entrants in the 2-A playoffs. Laguna Hills will travel to Pasadena Blair (16-7) for a first-round game Friday at 7:30 p.m. Laguna Beach will play host to Azusa in a wild-card game at 7:30 tonight.
Laguna Hills, which has won six of its last seven games, is led by forward Mike Smedes, guard Chris Sheff and point guard Rick Kawada.
The Hawks share the upper bracket with Banning, and providing each team wins its first two games, they would meet in a quarterfinal game Feb. 26.