Last season, Santa Margarita High was the Southern Section Division III-AA champions. Edison was a finalist in Division I-A.
Yet this season, one of those teams would be first-round losers. Santa Margarita eliminated Edison from the playoffs with a 67-51 Division II-A victory.
Santa Margarita (24-2), the fourth-seeded team, never trailed after a 6-4 deficit. The Sea View League champions shot 63% from the field in the second half and made 10 of 12 free throws in the fourth quarter.
Point guard Dennis Keane, one of two returning starters for the Eagles, who have won six of their last seven playoff games, said it's still a much different feeling than last season.
"Nobody expected us to be back (in the playoffs). We knew we had to prove ourselves all over," said Keane, who played every minute and finished with 11 points, eight assists and two steals.
Santa Margarita was led by Allen Krist's 21 points and eight rebounds. Nick Maroutsos added 17 points and Brendan Mulligan nine. The Eagles will meet Canyon in the second round Tuesday.
The Chargers (12-15) managed to stay close through three quarters, even creeping to within one once before Keane hit a three-pointer with four seconds remaining in the first half. Santa Margarita led, 48-44, at halftime.
Eagle Coach Jerry DeBusk called a quick timeout to start the fourth quarter with his team leading by only five. He seem to spark the team as the Eagles went on a 10-2 run.
Had Edison shot better, the game might have resembled the Eagles' narrow tournament victory over Edison earlier this season. But the Chargers made only 36% from the field and a 2 of 21 from three-point range.
"I think we felt lucky just to be here. We didn't expect to make the playoffs," said guard Josh Lightman, who had 12 points. Ryan Langdon led the Chargers with 18. "But we still could have won this game. We just needed to shoot much better."