The best news Coach Phil Abraham received last week was that his Edison High School girls' basketball team couldn't use its gymnasium Saturday night.
The Chargers had a home game against Walnut High Saturday night in the second round of the Southern Section 4-AA playoffs. But the 4-A wrestling championships were scheduled for the same night at Edison.
A problem? Hardly.
Abraham chose Marina as the site for the game. As alternate sites go, it was not exactly neutral. The Chargers defeated the Mustangs, 56-50, raising their record to 6-0 at Marina this season.
"It gave us an edge subconsciously," Abraham said. "Our players are just real comfortable in the Marina gym. I don't know why."
Earlier this season, the Chargers won four games in the Marina tournament, including a victory over Ocean View in the championship game. It was one of only two losses the Seahawks have had this season. Edison also defeated Marina in a road game during Sunset League play.
With Saturday's victory over Walnut, the Chargers have won twice as many games at Marina than at Edison, where they are 3-5.
"We've played some really good teams at home, which is a big reason why our road record is better," said Abraham, whose team finished tied for fourth in the Sunset League. "But we also seem to play better on the road. And Marina has been really good to us."
Besides playing the game at Marina, the Chargers (17-8) also practiced in the Vikings' gym Friday.
Abraham had to get permission from Southern Section officials to practice at Marina. Under section rules, teams aren't allowed to practice in a gym in which they will use as an alternate site. But because Edison was scheduled to have a home game, section officials allowed the Chargers to practice at Marina.
"To tell you the truth, the way we're playing right now, we would have won no matter where the game was played," Abraham said. "But when you're in the playoffs, any edge you can get helps."
Edison's success in Marina's gym was part of Abraham's pregame speech. The Chargers also wanted to bring an Edison banner to drape over the scorer's table.
But Abraham said there was a Marina banner at the scorer's table in the five previous victories.
"They dropped that idea right away," Abraham said. "They wanted everything to be exactly the same. When you're dealing with kids, these things work."
The Chargers will not be able to use Marina's gym again during the playoffs, however.
Teams must play at alternate sites during the rest of the playoffs. Because Edison has practiced at Marina, it is no longer considered a neutral gym by the Southern Section.
"But you can't worry about things that are one or two games down the road," Abraham said. "You have to be concerned with the game you're playing. But I would like to have played at Marina again. The kids are a little superstitious."
More superstitions: Abraham said guard Debbie Fischer was worried about the Walnut game. Or, rather, the pregame warm-ups.
Besides being the Chargers' leading scorer, Fischer is in charge of the music played at Edison games during warm-ups. But Fischer forgot to bring the tape to Marina and the Chargers had to warm up without it.
"Debbie is very religious about that tape," Abraham said. "She made it and feels it's her main duty to bring it. It worries me when little things like that bother my players."
Abraham had no reason to worry. Fischer handled her other main duty, scoring 30 points in the victory over Walnut.
Lost in America: The Esperanza boys' soccer team took an indirect route to the second round of the Southern Section 2-A playoffs.
Calexico was scheduled to play at Esperanza in a first-round game Friday, but some misleading directions from one of the Bulldogs' officials caused them to miss the game. Calexico officials had problems getting transportation for a make-up game and forfeited on Sunday.
Esperanza (15-4-5) will play at Anaheim in the second round at 3 p.m. Wednesday.
Linda Lunceford's high school soccer career came to an abrupt end on Friday when Trabuco Hills was upset by Foothill, 2-0, in the second round of the 3-A playoffs.
Lunceford scored 31 goals this season and had 87 during her three-year career at Esperanza and Trabuco Hills. She played at Esperanza as a sophomore before her family moved to Mission Viejo. Lunceford ranks fifth in career goals in the Southern Section.
Soccer will not be her sport when she goes to college, however. Lunceford is being recruited to play softball. She led Orange County last season with a .500 batting average.
Lunceford, who plays shortstop, has made visits to Cal State Long Beach, Colorado and Minnesota. Coaches from Ohio State and Iowa also have shown interest.
A prediction by Trabuco Hills' basketball Coach Rainer Wulf came true in the Mustangs' 3-AA playoff game against Servite.
He rather would have been a false prophet.
Wulf said the Mustangs could win the 3-AA if guards Tim Manning, Randy Kriech and Beau Hossler played up to their potential.
"We'll go only as far as those three take us," Wulf said before Friday night's game. "If they all play well, we can win the whole thing."
The final destination was Servite. The Friars eliminated the Mustangs with a 58-53 victory.
Of the three, only Manning played well. He made seven of 14 shots, including four three-point baskets, and scored 20 points.
Hossler scored 20 points, but made only seven of 17 field goals. Kriech was two-of-eight from the field and scored only four points.
Judy McKnight, wife of Mater Dei basketball Coach Gary McKnight, is expecting their fifth child. According to tests, it will be the couple's fifth son.
"We had ultrasound tests done," Gary McKnight said. "Another boy."
When asked if the tests revealed whether the upcoming arrival would be a shooting guard, the less-than-slim Gary McKnight said, "If he's built like me, he'll have to be. He's lucky. He's the coach's son."
Jaysn Ochs continued his scoring rampage for the Brea-Olinda boys' soccer team last week. Ochs, a senior forward, scored the only goal in the Wildcats' 1-0 victory over Bonita in the first round of the 2-A playoffs.
Ochs has scored 11 goals in Brea-Olinda's last nine games.
Loara High is accepting applications for its vacant football coaching position following the retirement of Herb Hill, the county's winningest football coach. The position will remain open until March 7 and includes a teaching position. Interested parties should call 999-3698 for further information. Hill said he plans to work with the team's quarterbacks twice a week next season. . . . The Trabuco Hills basketball tournament, scheduled Dec. 4-8, has been expanded to 12 teams. Among the new entries will be Mater Dei and Capistrano Valley. . . . Rocky Ciarelli, Huntington Beach boys' volleyball coach, has scheduled an alumni volleyball game March 3 in the school's gym. . . . Four Orange County girls' volleyball players, who compete for the Mission Valley Volleyball Club of Laguna Beach, signed letter of intents last week. Sara Nelson (Laguna Beach) signed with UC Santa Barbara, Cara Dome (Los Alamitos) with California, Dawn Austin (Canyon) with Washington, and Angie Rush (Laguna Beach) with Georgetown. . . . The Dana Hills and Capistrano Valley boys' surf teams will defend their titles in the 16-team field of the California Interscholastic Surfing Championships this weekend in Oceanside. The Dolphins will face San Dieguito in the first round of the 4-A division. The Cougars will face Vista in the first round of the 3-A. In other 4-A first-round heats: Edison vs. Laguna Beach; San Clemente vs. Oceanside; Huntington Beach vs. Torrey Pines. Orange faces Elsinore in the only other 3-A heat involving a county school.