It was a shame that one team had to lose.
Los Amigos High and Costa Mesa put on a show for those in attendance, never providing a dull moment in a tightly contested girls' basketball game on Thursday night.
In the end, the playoffs must have a winner, and Los Amigos rallied late in a great overtime thriller.
Cheryl Caldera had 27 points, 12 rebounds, and four steals as the Lobos edged the Mustangs, 51-47, in the first round of the CIF Southern Section Division 4A playoffs at Costa Mesa High.
Back-to-back threes by Anh Nguyen and Jennifer Murillo brought the Lobos (20-6) back from a four-point deficit in the overtime period.
"That was the turning point," Murillo said. "I knew that we were going to win."
After some well-documented struggles in the Garden Grove League, the Lobos appeared to regain their form offensively in the first half.
Caldera, the team's star center, was unleashed in the post, and she came through with 20 points and six rebounds by halftime. The Lobos had a 31-27 lead at that point.
Both teams chose to come out with pressure, playing a full-court defense to create a heavy dose of turnovers.
Ultimately, the post players carried the play. Caldera did her damage on the block.
For Costa Mesa (10-16), sophomore forward Katie Belmontes was both a playmaker and a scorer on the fastbreak. She had 14 points, six rebounds, and four assists by the break. She connected nicely with Kiarra Garcia and McKayla Ortiz on bounce passes in transition.
The game slowed down tremendously in the second half, something that Lobos Coach Sabrina White said came by design.
"The entire game was a battle, but we could never get into our defensive rhythm," she said. "We're making these mistakes, playing at the other team's pace, and once we slowed down and started doing the things that we've been doing all season long, the game came back to us."
Costa Mesa erased a 36-29 deficit at the 3:43 mark of the third quarter, rallying to take a 38-37 lead going into the final frame.
Each team had multiple chances to take the lead in the final minutes, but they went scoreless after Murillo tied it, 43-43, on a steal and layup with 2:53 to go.
Murillo finished with 15 points, eight steals, four rebounds, and three assists for the Lobos. Kacie Vazquez added six points.
Belmontes led the Mustangs with 24 points, 12 rebounds, four assists and three steals. Malia Tufuga added seven points and 10 rebounds, and McKayla Ortiz chipped in with six points.
Los Amigos High was hosting a "Power 106 Game" on campus, which brought celebrities to the school to face the faculty. Caldera said the school missed a great game as a result.
"Everyone is at the Power 106 game right now," she said. "We feel like they should have been at this game."
CIF-SS Division 4A Playoffs
Los Amigos 51, Costa Mesa 47 (OT)
SCORE BY PERIODS
Los Amigos – 15 - 16 - 6 - 6 - 8 – 51
Costa Mesa – 12 - 15 - 11 - 5 - 4 – 47
LA – Caldera 27, Murillo 15, Vazquez 6, Nguyen 3.
3-pt. goals – Murillo 2, Nguyen 1.
Fouled out – None.
Technicals – None.
CM – Belmontes 24, Tufuga 7, Ortiz 6, Garcia 5, Filner 3, James 2.
3-pt. goals – Tufuga 1, Garcia 1, Filner 1.
Fouled out – Garcia.
Technicals – None.