Oxnard Santa Clara, the Southern Section 1-A champion, knew it would have to play its best to have a chance to beat 2-A winner Chino in the Division II girls' basketball final Saturday.
Trailing, 14-2, after the first quarter, it looked as if Santa Clara would be stampeded by the Chino Cowgirls.
"We were doing everything we wanted to early," Chino Coach Joe Murillo said. "I thought we were going to crush them."
But Santa Clara marched back to send the game into overtime, only to come up empty in a 49-44 loss at the Sports Arena.
Down by 10 points going into the fourth quarter, Santa Clara's plan was to go to Kathy Torres inside. The Saints did just that, as Torres had 12 points in the quarter, including two three-point plays to lead the uphill battle.
Torres had 27 points and 10 rebounds for the game to lead Santa Clara.
Santa Clara (25-5) was able to take the lead, 44-43, with 24 seconds left, but Chino wasn't going to fold. Chino forward Carnell Watts, after taking a bad shot, got her rebound and was fouled with 13 seconds left. That didn't please Murillo, though.
"I was concerned because she's our worst free-throw shooter," he said.
Watts, a 20% shooter from the line, missed the first shot but made the second to send the game into overtime.
Chino, its only loss coming against No. 1-ranked Muir, was able to win the game on the work of guard Candida Echevarria, who made the overtime period's only points.
Echevarria had 18 and guard Stephanie Dykstra scored 14 as Chino raised its record to 31-1.
The Cowgirls will play Novato Saturday at Oakland for the State Division II title.