The crowd spilled onto the court as the seconds ticked off the clock and the frenzied celebration began.
Murrieta Valley girls varsity basketball had come from behind to beat Redondo Union 60-56 in overtime of the CIF Southern Section Division 2A semifinal playoff game.
"Last night was a great back and forth battle. Our girls played with a lot of determination and heart as they continued to come back in this roller coaster of a game," said Nighthawk Coach Scott Richards. "Our free throws were the determining factor as we went 18 for 21 from the charity stripe.
"Our girls showed a lot of grit and determination. Redondo Union is a great team with a very successful history, big posts and quick guards. It was awesome to see us compete together and win in overtime against such a good team."
On the brink of elimination, the Nighthawks scrambled back to tie the score at 46 apiece in the final seconds of the fourth quarter. It was a see-saw battle all night long as Redondo Union traded points and leads with the Nighthawks.
Then, with 18 seconds left in overtime, Brynn Dahmer dropped a 16-foot jumper into the basket to put Murrieta Valley up for good. Ariana Hernandez sunk two clutch free throws with 3 seconds on the clock to insure the Nighthawk win.
Hernandez scored 16 points to lead the Nighthawks, including five points in overtime. She also had six assists, one defensive rebound, and two steals to help Murrieta Valley propel into the Division 2A championship game for the first time in school history.
“All year our team has been well balanced. We don’t have just one player that can score we have several, so when times get tough in a game we can lean on many different players which can take the pressure off of us a bit,” Richards said.
Tuesday night, Dahmer and Alex Morrison the one who stepped in and scored six points and grabbed three rebounds, all in the fourth quarter and in overtime.
Karen Wolf had 15 points and six rebounds for the Nighthawks. Aliah Marshall scored 10 points, Dahmer eight, and Deshea Wilkes five. Wilkes led MVHS with 10 rebounds.
“Having a semifinal home game was very exciting. Our fans came out in droves last night and really pumped up our team. The Hawk House was electric and our girls fed off of the adrenaline. We have great fans,” Richards said.
The Nighthawks will now face Culver City as they vie for the division title. The Centaurs defeated Orange Lutheran, the No. 1 seed, 42-40 on Tuesday. The game begins at 3:30 p.m. at Anaheim Arena.