Redemption was easy for the Estancia High School boys' basketball team.
A week ago, the Eagles were stunned and frustrated after losing to Pomona in the Southern Section Division III-AA championship game. They're all smiling today after defeating the same team, 64-40, in the Southern California Regional final Saturday at the Los Angeles Sports Arena.
Estancia (28-5) advanced to the State final against Fremont Washington, the Northern California regional champion.
"We worked all week with the idea of getting a second chance and then make up for the way we played last Saturday," Estancia Coach Tim O'Brien said. "We did. In five days, we beat three (section) champions."
They beat none more soundly than Pomona, which defeated Estancia, 48-45, in overtime in the section final.
It was the same Red Devil team on the court, doing the exact same things. But quite a different group of Eagles showed up.
Estancia missed its first 15 shots in the first meeting and shot 28% for the game. There would be none of that the second time around.
The Eagles made their first four shots Saturday and were a respectable 46% from the field overall. This time, Pomona (24-7) made 28%.
"All the way up on the bus, we kept talking about making the first shot," guard Son Ly said. "Our plan was to have everybody make their first shot."
Ly did his part. With just 30 seconds gone, he drove baseline for a layup. Mike Haas then followed with a three-point field goal.
"I looked up at the scoreboard and saw we had five points and there was only two minutes gone. That made me feel a lot better," O'Brien said, thinking back a week to the zero-for-15 start in the section final.
Ly did considerable damage to the Pomona defense. He made eight of 14 shots and scored a game-high 21 points.
It was a sweet return to the Sports Arena. A week ago, Ly's off-balance shot at the end of overtime rolled off the rim. Had it fallen, the Eagles would have been in a position to win.
"I kept seeing that shot all week," Ly said. "When I let it go, I thought it was in. I watched the videotape over and over again. It was just bad luck.
"When I heard we were playing Pomona again, I was happy. I missed five layups last week, and I wanted to get another chance at them."
After the fast start, it looked like the Eagles would again have problems with Pomona. After taking an 18-9 lead late in the first quarter, Estancia went 7 minutes 59 seconds without a field goal.
This time, though, the problem wasn't shooting; it was Pomona's half-court trap. Estancia turned the ball over 12 times against the press and watched its lead shrink.
A three-point field goal by Johnny McWilliams (14 points) capped a 10-1 run that tied the score, 19-19. Matt Fuerbringer's layup with 1:33 left in the half was the Eagles' first field goal of the second quarter.
"It wasn't like we were shooting bad, we just weren't shooting at all," O'Brien said. "We kept turning the ball over."
But the Red Devils didn't reap many benefits from its defensive effort, mainly because they couldn't make their free throws. Pomona made only five of 14 free throws and missed four one-and-one attempts in the first half.
"That's one of our biggest weakness and it finally caught up with us," Pomona Coach Ed Taylor said.
The Eagles wrapped the game up in the third quarter. Ly and Torrey Hammond (16 points) led a 11-0 run that gave Estancia a 41-29 lead.