Older Siblings Toughened Estancia's Edson : Division III: Point guard has overcome his slump to help Eagles reach regional final today against Morningside.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Joe Edson has had to await his turn for most of his life.

As a youngster, Edson was routinely mistaken for a punching bag by three older brothers. He was the target of elbows and cheap shots in backyard pickup basketball games.

"I got beat up by my older brothers a lot," he said.

Still, Edson was the biggest kid in his sixth-grade class and elected to play basketball when he entered Davis Intermediate School. He was a point guard in the seventh and eighth grades but was forced to give up his position to longtime friend Russell King when he entered Estancia High School.

Edson adjusted to playing off-guard on Estancia's freshman and junior varsity teams as a freshman and sophomore, then had to wait another season before joining the varsity team.

"There were 18 seniors on the varsity team during my junior year," Edson said. "So I played another year of JVs. It was very difficult playing on the junior varsity for two straight years.

"Ty Schisler and I would watch the varsity games that year and figured we were in the top nine. It was frustrating, but we knew our turn was coming."

Edson finally gained the spotlight this season when Coach Tim O'Brien named him the team's starting point guard. He anticipated a banner year with the defending State Division III champions.

"I had been on two league championship teams the previous two years, so I figured at the very least, we would win the league this year," Edson said. "I played on a junior varsity team that beat Mission Viejo's varsity during my junior year, so I figured varsity wouldn't be that hard."

Edson was wrong. He opened play in the Tipoff Classic at Newport Harbor with only 10 points in four games. O'Brien claimed that getting the ball past midcourt was an adventure against opponents.

"I started asking myself, 'Do I belong here?' " Edson said. "It was a bigger adjustment than I had imagined."

But Edson quickly regained his confidence against Bishop Amat in the Tournament of Champions when he scored a season-high 19 points and made five three-pointers.

"I started thinking, 'Maybe I am a scorer,' " he said. "I had never averaged more than 10 points a game, but I started hitting two or three three-pointers every game."

That was before the big slump. Edson went zero for six from three-point range in a showdown with Trabuco Hills for the Pacific Coast League championship. When he followed with another zero-for-six performance against Costa Mesa, Edson had taken 14 consecutive three-point attempts in three games without making a shot.

"I got the keys from Coach O'Brien and came to the gym every night to practice my shot," Edson said. "I cranked up the stereo and shot."

Ah, there's nothing like a little head-banging music to cure a shooting slump. Guns 'n Roses or Metallica?

"James Taylor or Cat Stevens," Edson said. "Remember, I had three older brothers. There's no head banging in the Edson house."

But Edson does anticipate bumping heads with Inglewood Morningside in the Division III regional championship game at 10:45 a.m. today in the L.A. Sports Arena. The game is a rematch of Morningside's 95-85 overtime victory over Estancia in the sectional championship. Edson's memories of the first meeting?

"The way we let it (11-point lead) slip away," Edson said. "I thought we had the game won when I made two free throws (for an 81-78 lead), and then that guy makes that shot. I knew it was over after he made that shot."

Morningside's Dominic Ellison made a three-point shot with 12 seconds remaining to send the game into overtime. Then, Morningside outscored Estancia, 14-4, in the extra three-minute session to win the title.

What does Edson anticipate in the rematch?

"A win," he said. "We won't settle for anything less."

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