It wasn't until the final buzzer sounded Friday that visiting Esperanza could breathe a sigh of relief after its 60-57 victory over Katella in an Empire League game.
Josh Greer's layup with less than 30 seconds remaining gave Esperanza the lead for good, marking the 11th lead change of the night. The score was tied 12 times.
"Both teams played really hard tonight," Esperanza Coach Mark Hill said. "I'm proud we came back after being down a few points late in the game."
With five minutes left in the fourth quarter, Katella (13-8, 4-4) went ahead, 51-47, its biggest lead of the night.
However, Mike Thimgan and Mike Lawson each hit short jump shots, tying the score again.
The victory clinched a playoff spot for Esperanza (16-7, 6-2). Katella's hopes depend on its final two league games.
Lawson and Thimgan each carried the Aztecs at certain points of the game.
Lawson scored 13 points in the first half and seven in the fourth quarter, finishing with 20. Thimgan scored 10 of his 20 points in the third quarter.
"Mike Lawson had a great first half and really kept us in the game," Hill said. "Then, Mike Thimgan picked us up in the second half."
Esperanza also hit on all 12 of its free throws, with Thimgan extending the school record for consecutive free throws made to 42, converting on seven Friday.
"I guess those proved to be the difference," Hills said.
Katella's Mike Pahl finished with 18 points and eight rebounds. Carlos Romero scored nine points in the second half, including five late in the game.
In other league games:
Loara 59, Cypress 57 (OT)--Scott Davis hit an 18-foot jumper with three seconds left in overtime to win it for host Loara (12-11, 5-6). His was the only basket in the extra period.
Davis led Loara with 25 points. Derek Mitchell scored 15 points for Cypress (12-11, 3-5).
Los Alamitos 78, El Dorado 62--Ryan Staniec scored 30 points and Tim Lin added 12 and 11 assists for host Los Alamitos (20-3, 8-0). Dante Spencer scored 16 points for El Dorado (6-15, 1-7).