Fate seemed to be on Gardena Serra's side when guard Briana Johnson swished a three-pointer at the buzzer to force overtime.
The Cavaliers then had two chances underneath the basket to win at the end of the first overtime, but instead it was Sacramento McClatchy that ultimately prevailed 65-61 in double overtime to win the CIF Division I state championship at Haas Pavilion on the campus of UC Berkeley.
"I knew it was going in," Johnson said of her game-tying three-pointer as the fourth-quarter clock hit zero. "We were very confident going to overtime. We thought we were going to win. We played the best we could but we missed a lot of layups and free throws."
Serra (23-11) overcame a nine-point deficit with 1:29 remaining in regulation and nearly pulled off its second comeback in as many games after rallying to beat Ventura in overtime to win the Southern California Regional title last week. Johnson led the Cavaliers with 21 points and fellow junior Brijaye Brackett added 14 points and 15 rebounds.
Gigi Garcia had 19 points and 20 rebounds, including back-to-back layups that gave the Lions (27-7) a five-point lead in the second overtime. Johnson's driving layup pulled Serra within 63-61 with 4.8 seconds left, but Alex Washington was fouled intentionally on the inbounds play and sank both foul shots to seal the victory.
"Hats off to them," Serra Coach McKenzie Hadley said. "Their size did give us trouble. We had good opportunities going to the basket, but we shot less than 50 percent from the free throw line and in a game like this that's the difference."
McClatchy became the first public school to win a state championship this year. La Jolla Country Day, Bishop O'Dowd, Damien and Sierra Canyon -- all private schools -- won the first four games.
-- Steve Galluzzo