Ceres High School's varsity girls basketball team lost by gut-wrenching fashion to Central Valley for the second time this season.
The host Hawks edged the upset-minded Bulldogs 45-43 on Feb. 8.
Junior Adriana Haynes' three-point play-inside basket and subsequent free throw-with 25 seconds remaining in the game propelled Central Valley past Ceres High.
"It is special because I used to go there my freshman year," said Haynes, a former Bulldog. "But I just think of them as another team. I treated today like it was the last day of the season. I'm relieved. It wouldn't have been fun losing our undefeated record to our crosstown rival."
Teresa Diaz had a team-high 17 points for the first-place Hawks.
Haynes and Mikayla Mabie both tallied nine points.
Alexis Contreras and Adria Robinson chipped in with five and four points, respectively.
Rosie Duarte added one point.
"Knowing my teammates have confidence in my shot, I try harder for them," Diaz said. "But it took the whole team's effort to win this game."
Nicole Bates netted a game-high 23 points for the fourth-place Bulldogs.
Mahlena O'Neal totaled five points.
Jessica Arreola and Kaylee Holloway contributed four points each.
Leena Bassi collected three points.
Natalia Cortez and Jasmine Moore finished with two points apiece.
"Whenever we play, it's really competitive and intense," Ceres High head coach Kristen McClure said.
"They have a good team," Bates added. "We tried out best."
There were six lead changes in the fourth quarter.
Diaz scored seven straight points to give the Hawks a 42-39 lead with 2:44 left in regulation.
The Bulldogs responded with a 4-0 run as Bassi buried two clutch foul shots and Bates converted a contested layup.
Bates' basket put Ceres High ahead, 43-42, at the 1:47 mark.
Mabie misfired while attempting two free throws with 32 seconds to play. Luckily, Mikayla was able to corral her second miss and find a wide-open Adriana.
"I knew the pass would get there," Haynes said. "All I had to do was do my part. Obviously, I was scared because I missed a wide-open layup (earlier in the game). I was so surprised it went in. If they would have beaten us, it would have meant everything in the world to them."
Ceres High led by as much as 10 points, 31-21, in the opening half.
Central Valley used a 4-0 in the final 1:28 to cut the deficit to six.
"I wasn't surprised at all," Bates said. "We were driving to the basket instead of settling for outside shots. We also played good defense."
"They came out ready to play," Haynes said.
Central Valley scored 10 points and limited Ceres High to just two in the third quarter.
The Hawks maintained a slim 35-33 lead heading into the final period.
Ceres High had a chance to send the game into overtime late in the game.
Kaylee Holloway's potential, game-tying shot fell short.
"It looked like it was going in," McClure said.
McClure wanted Bates to take the last shot.
Nicole couldn't get open.
"It's always fun to be in that position," Bates said. "Mikayla played outstanding defense."
"The outcome could have been different," McClure said. "Nicole's an experienced player. She's been playing varsity for four years. There was some miscommunication. We didn't get the shot we wanted. It happens."
Ceres High (13-11, 5-6) dropped a pair of WAC games to Central Valley (18-7, 11-0) by a combined three points.
The Bulldogs lost 44-43 to the Hawks on Jan. 21 at Phil de la Porte Gymnasium.
"It would have been something to talk about," McClure said while talking about the possibility of upsetting Central Valley. "It definitely sucks losing. They have a good team. They deserved to win. But we weren't playing our best basketball, especially in the second half. Our defense wasn't as good. We missed a lot of wide-open shots and free throws."
The Hawks improved their all-time record against the Bulldogs to 11-10 last week.