Don't ask Coach Andrea Francola about the regular season. Don't ask how her Reseda High girls basketball team fared against North Hollywood. Don't ask which school got more recognition or won the West Valley League.
Just ask Francola which team woke up this morning as the City Section 3-A girls champion.
The Regents, who lost to North Hollywood twice during the regular season, scored 28 points in the fourth quarter and won their first City basketball championship with a come-from-behind 69-65 victory Friday at the Sports Arena before a crowd of 3,000.
Senior Dana Jones led Reseda (15-2) with a game-high 23 points and Cheryl Hightower added 20. Debbie Herz had a team-high 22 points for North Hollywood (18-3), which had its winning streak ended at 14 games.
"This team has worked hard to prepare for this," Francola said. "They sacrificed after school, and every other opportunity they had they worked on free throws."
Ah yes, Reseda and free throws. When the two teams met last month in a West Valley League game, North Hollywood won, 64-62. Reseda had made only 8 of 27 free throws.
The Regents were slightly better (17 of 31) Friday, but they were 8 of 12 in the fourth quarter.
With 38 seconds left in the game, Reseda led, 67-61. But North Hollywood rallied with baskets from Michelle Cabaldon and Herz to close to 67-65.
With six seconds left, Jones was fouled and faced her biggest one-and-one opportunity of the season. The senior forward made both free throws and the upset was a reality.
"I just stepped up there like it was a normal free throw," Jones said. "I blocked everything out. I told myself it was a normal game in a normal gym."
The Regents were anything but normal in the first half. After taking a 19-15 first-quarter lead, Reseda made just 1 of 14 shots in the second quarter and fell behind, 31-27, at the half.
"We were sloppy with our passing in the first quarter and I thought, 'Here we go again,' " Francola said. "But I just told the players at halftime we weren't running enough and we tried to speed things up in the second half."
Reseda trailed after three quarters, 44-41, but accelerated into high gear, and the Jones-Hightower connection wore down North Hollywood with its speed.
Herz, who entered the game with a bad cough and pulled a stomach muscle in the first quarter, played the whole game but couldn't keep pace with Reseda's rabbits in the final minutes.
An 8-0 fourth quarter run gave Reseda a 66-55 with 2:05 remaining.
"You have to give Reseda credit," North Hollywood Coach Rich Allen said. "But both teams played a great game. Our team is not just Debbie Herz. Everybody played well."
Reseda's Vee Jones sprained her left knee in the first quarter and had to watch her team's comeback from the bench. The 5-5 guard had a message for anybody who hadn't known about the Reseda girls basketball team before Friday.
"I think we established a little identity tonight," she said. "Now I think we'll be on the map."