Thursday may have been the end to the Freeway league regular season, but Sunny Hills and La Habra will face each other one more time after a late overtime free throw conversion by Jessica Barrow led to a 52-51 Lady Lancers victory over the Lady Highlanders.
In The first quarter of the game between the now tied for third place teams neither was able to pull away from the other.
La Habra (16-9, 5-5) jumped out to an early four-point lead but Sunny Hills (16-10, 5-5) quickly caught up and took a four-point lead of their own in the final minutes of the opening quarter.
The Freeway League teams went into the second quarter tied after La Habra center Hannah Mc Arthur, who led the Lady Highlanders with five points in the first, responded to a late 3-pointer by Molly Grumbo with a 2-pointer to make it 15-15.
Led by a big scoring second quarter from Grumbo the Lady Lancers were able to take and keep the lead.
The senior guard hit three 3-pointers in the span of a few minutes in the quarter to guide the Sunny Hills on an 11-4 run.
Despite Grumbos hot hand, Mc Arthur kept La Habra only down by single digits for most of the quarter through scoring eight points from the field, including their last four points of the half.
Grumbo wasn’t the only Lady Lancer converting from outside the arc, Junior Kayli Arii made a basket from 3-point range in the final moments of the half to put Sunny Hills up 35-25.
The opening minutes of the second half resulted in the Lady Lancers increasing their lead.
Four straight points from Barrow and another 3-pointer by Arii powered an early quarter 7-2 Sunny Hills run that put them up by 15.
The Lady Highlanders responded and went on a 9-2 run, partly fueled by four points by Mc Arthur, to cut the Lady Lancers lead to eight at the end of the quarter.
The final quarter of regulation was dominated defensively and offensively by the Lady Highlanders.
From the first moments of the fourth quarter La Habra implemented a game changing full court press.
Sunny Hills to take care of the ball on several possessions in the quarter.
At several moments the Lady Lancers had the ball stolen from them, mishandled it, or threw it away due to defensive pressure.
The Lady Raiders capitalized and Mc Arthur and senior point guard Lani Maehara led the comeback efforts.
Maehara sparked an 8-0 run by La Habra to tie the game when she scored five straight unanswered points to cut the Lady Lancers lead to three.
Mc Arthur completed the run by adding three points of her own, including the game tying 2-pointer.
In addition to poor handling, poor free throw shooting by Sunny Hills led to the loss of their once ten point lead.
As a team the Lady Lancers went two for eight from the line in the quarter.
As the game winded down both teams missed opportunities to score the game winning basket.
In overtime the Lady Lancers had better form from the line but found themselves down 51-49 with just over a minute to go, and with an opponent at the freethrow line.
Maehara had the chance to extend the Lady Highlanders lead to four but missed the front end of a one-and-one.
Sunny Hills got the rebound of Maehara’s miss and soon after tied the game with under a minute left.
As overtime neared its conclusion Mc Arthur missed the go ahead basket in the paint and the Lady Lancers got a chance to go ahead in the final seconds.
With the clock winding down Barrow drove into the paint and fell onto the floor as she was fouled on her way to the basket.
The sophomore missed her first attempt from the line but was able to shake off the miss and drain her second free throw to put Sunny Hills up by one.
After one last time out the Lady Highlanders inbounded from their own end and gave the ball to Maehara, who scored 15 points in the game, on what ended up being the final play of the game.
Once she caught the inbounds pass Maehara made her way up the court and attempted a game winning shot from just past the half court line as time expired.
The shot went off the backboard and instead of gaining an automatic berth into the CIF playoffs by winning and securing third place the Lady Highlanders must now Play the Lady Lancers again with the playoff spot directly at stake.
Sunny Hills and La Habra will play for the final guaranteed Freeway League spot in the CIF playoffs on Friday at Troy High School at 3:00 pm.