How important is Santa Clara High's basketball game tonight? Depends on whom you ask.
The Saints face San Diego Lincoln Prep at 8:30 at Cal State Dominguez Hills in a rematch of last year's Southern regional Division IV finalists.
"The whole ball of wax is the CIF," said Coach Lou Cvijanovich, referring to the Southern Section title his team won March 6. "After that, it's all extra."
Not so, says senior point guard Art Barron.
"It hurt to lose last year. It hurt a lot," he said. "You make it this far, you may as well win."
The Saints won their third consecutive regional title in 1991 but lost in the state final. For that, Barron and three other returning starters have something to play for.
They disposed of their first two regional opponents with ease, beating Clairemont, 94-48, and Serra, 64-42. But neither had a winning record, and Lincoln Prep (21-8) has won 20 of its past 24.
Lincoln Prep defeated Pius X, 76-71, to advance to tonight's game. Santa Clara defeated Pius X, 55-50, in the Southern Section final. Berry Randle, Lincoln Prep's tallest player at 6-foot-4, averages a team-high 17.4 points.