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Brown, Edison can be proud of turnaround
It was the biggest loss of the Orange County girls hoops season, and it came a month before a single game had even been played.
Sara Brown will never forget she was coaching a late October practice when the news reached Edison’s varsity squad that its beloved head coach, Dan Wiley, had died suddenly at his home.
A little over a week after Wiley’s passing, Brown – who was serving as an assistant under Wiley – was named the Chargers new coach, her familiarity and relationship with the current roster making it an easy choice for the school’s administration.
Having to turn around and coach basketball in the midst of such a distressing situation was anything but easy.
“It was a super traumatic situation because Dan was a father figure to so many people,” Brown said. “There’d be moments of silence held before starts of games, and I’d have half my bench in tears.”
Pregame gestures of remembrance became the new norm. The Larry Doyle O.C. Championship tournament, which Edison helps host, added the “Dan Wiley Memorial” moniker to the title.
The most apparent reminder of Wiley’s presence surrounding the Chargers program came in the schedule he set up for the 2015-16 season. Edison was bounced in the second round of the CIF playoffs a year ago, and the thought was a strong preseason slate of games would help avoid another early postseason exit.
“We scheduled so many tough games,” Brown added. “And we were still trying to come together as a team. A lot of it didn’t even have to do with basketball. It was, ‘Are you OK mentally and as a person.’”
With so much working against them early on, the Chargers went 5-8 in their first 13 outings. Fortunately for Edison, the start of Sunset League play coincided with the new calendar year and served as a fresh start of sorts.
Brown guided the Chargers to a 7-3 league finish, good enough for second place behind only Los Alamitos, and currently has the squad on a three-game winning streak headed into the 2AA playoffs.
Edison will travel to Foothill on Thursday evening for a rematch with the Knights, who notched a 66-56 win on Dec. 30.
“I just went back and watched the tape of that game and we played terrible,” Brown said. “I really don’t feel like we match up with them well. … I do like the fact that our girls have come together, though. They understand now that you need all five girls on the court contributing if you’re going to have success.”
O.C. vs. O.C.
In addition to the Foothill-Edison showdown on Thursday night, there are nine additional contests pitting county opponents against one another.
The Division 1A bracket hosts three of those games alone. Trabuco Hills will travel to take on Aliso Niguel in a rematch of a December game the Wolverines won by 19. Katella hosts University after losing to the Trojans by 15 early in the season. Cypress hosts Dana Hills in their first encounter.
Divisions 2AA and 3AA each have 10 county teams, tied for most in the 12 playoffs brackets. With numbers like that, more local matchups are on the horizon.
With the exception of the Open Division, first-round play for every division begins this Thursday with tip-offs scheduled for 7 p.m.
Because it’s only a 16-team bracket, the Open Division will get underway during every other division’s second round on Saturday night.
Quarterfinal games for every bracket will be held Wednesday, Feb. 24 with semifinals set for Saturday, Feb. 27.
The official CIF championship schedule will be released at the conclusion of semifinal play. Title games will be held either Friday, March 4 or Saturday, March 5 at either Godinez High or Azusa Pacific University.
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