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Hawks survive
Alyssa Long has experienced the disappointment of three straight losing seasons as a member of Central Valley High School's varsity girls basketball team.

Long and the Hawks find themselves in an unfamiliar position this year.

Central Valley remained in a tie atop the Western Athletic Conference standings on Thursday after surviving 45-43 against visiting Los Banos.

The Hawks and Patterson have identical 3-1 records.

Los Banos posted a 3-2 mark during the first half of the WAC season.

"We've always had the talent," Long said. "We're just finally putting it together. It's amazing. We're making history."

Added Central Valley head coach Jesse Padilla: "We've become the hunted now."

Long tallied a team-high 16 points, grabbed six rebounds and registered four steals against Los Banos. Myra Naranjo made two treys and totaled 10 points. Geena Wade added five points. Eva Noorzai collected four points, 10 rebounds and two blocks. Brittany Martinez and Lizette Covarrubias chipped in with four and three points respectively. Penny Chanthavong had one point.

The Hawks won despite struggling from the free-throw line (8 of 21).

Long totaled eight points in the fourth quarter.

Central Valley scored six straight points and led the rest of the way.

Naranjo's 3-pointer put the Hawks ahead 40-39 with 4:09 remaining in the game.

Long put back an offensive rebound, while Wade made one of two foul shots.

Los Banos guard Ieashia Isby's desperation 3-pointer cut the deficit to 44-43 in the waning seconds.

Long grabbed the inbounds pass and was intentionally fouled. Alyssa made the second of two free throws with 1 second to play.

The Hawks survived.

"Today was our biggest win of the year," Padilla said. "I knew we'd have a chance at the end if we kept it close. We're only going to get better."

"We didn't lose focus," Long said. "We kept our eye on the prize."

Central Valley will try to beat Ceres High for the first time in program history this week.

The Hawks are winless against the Bulldogs in eight meetings. Long's teams have an 0-6 record.

"That's the one thing we (Hawk seniors) want before we leave Central Valley," Long said. "I like our chances. I'm going to talk with my team about not underestimating them."

Said Padilla: "We'll need to play a complete game."

The Hawks have enjoyed a major turnaround in 2010-11.

Central Valley's no longer playing the role of spoiler.

The Hawks are contending for the WAC crown and a Sac-Joaquin Section playoff berth.

"The possibilities are endless at this point," Long said.