Until last year, Villa Park High had not made the Southern Section boys' basketball playoffs since 1976. And it had never reached the championship game.
But it has now, upsetting second-seeded Compton, 45-44, in overtime Tuesday at Compton Dominguez High.
Matt Poutsma's two free throws with 29 seconds left proved decisive. The loss ends the Tartar Lions' season at 24-6.
But to move into Saturday's Division II-AA title game at the Pond in Anaheim against Dominguez, the fourth-seeded Spartans (24-4) had a host of obstacles to survive.
Villa Park got a quiet offensive night from 7-0 center (and Kansas-bound) Eric Chenowith, who had 11 rebounds and eight blocked shots but was only one of six from the field and had only six points before fouling out with 2:39 left in the fourth quarter.
Isaiah Cavaco picked up the scoring slack for Villa Park, leading all scorers with 18 points.
Compton missed four shots from five feet in the final minute of the fourth quarter. And there was the final 29 seconds, which included two turnovers for each side, and a wild scramble for the ball in the final three seconds.
Compton thought it had the ball and a player appeared to signal for a timeout, but the clock did not stop until time ran out.
Compton Coach Rod Palmer did not look for any excuses.
"I certainly did not envision losing the game," Palmer said. "We knew this would be a hard game because we were playing a good team. The difference was, they executed when they had to and we didn't. We made some silly plays, and you can't make silly plays and expect to win."
Palmer was right in that respect. Compton finished with 12 turnovers, mostly under minimal pressure. The Tartar Lions also never got into an offensive groove. Guards Jeffrey Trepagnier (nine points) and Deandre Moore (10 points), whom Compton depends on for the bulk of its scoring, were a combined eight of 33 from the field.