A lead that goes Pffft! doesn't always equal a loss.
The Gleneagle Talons didn't let an impressive rally by the Walnut Grove Gators shake them from their final goal, as the junior boys basketball team pressed on and pulled out a thrilling 44-40 victory to win the Fraser Valley championship title.
Matthew Goroza hit a three-pointer with five seconds left in the extra period to erase a one-point deficit.
Gleneagle followed with a pair of foul shots that locked up the win and a top-four seeding at the provincials.
Led by six-foot-eight Grant Galbraith, the Talons clinged to a thin lead most of the second half - wedging ahead by four as the game entered its final minute.
Walnut Grove wouldn't say die, however, pressing forward and creating a foul that they cashed in a point. With just four seconds left, Gleneagle turned over the ball and the Gators' point guard heaved up a Hail Mary shot that dropped in to tie the game with less than a second on the clock.
In overtime, the Talons surrendered the first two buckets and trailed by four. But Galbraith nailed one basket and Arjan Nikpay hit a foul shot to make it a onepoint game. The tandem of Tarik Scott and Galbraith created a turnover to set up a last-gasp charge to the key. Goroza stopped outside the three-point arc and fired a shot that circled the rim before falling in.
It improved their record to 30-3 on the season.
Galbraith, who finished with 15 points and 17 rebounds, was named the junior Valleys MVP.
The next task will likely require a similar persistence.
Gleneagle could be seeded higher, but is looking forward to the advantages of a top-four ranking.
"The goal is for us to follow our systematic approach when preparing for games," said head coach Andrew Lloyd. "And as clichéd as it sounds, [we have] to take each game as it comes - one at a time.
"I would be disappointed with anything other than a Top-4 finish."
Success will depend upon the players continuing to embrace the team-first mantra that Lloyd has instilled. Being a year of many firsts for the Talons junior program - undefeated in league play, first league win over Terry Fox, first junior Valley title, first trip to B.C.s - the aim will be to add one more first to the list.
STARS FINISH SECOND IN THE VALLEY
They took it to the basket, now they'll take it to Kamloops.
The Archbishop Carney Stars are off to the AA senior girls provincials next week, after finishing second at the Fraser Valley championships.
Just like a year ago, Carney put up a valiant fight in the final against Holy Cross before falling 52-33.
"It was a rough game and we didn't play particularly well. We just didn't have our best game offensively," Carney head coach Joel Ditson said.
Coming off a huge 73-54 victory over Pitt Meadows in the semifinal, the Stars started a little flat. Holy Cross, meanwhile, was in good form.
Picking up first all-star team honours were Grade 11 centre Ashley Dallazanna and forward Kayla McFadden. Earning a spot on the second all-star squad was Colleen O'Mellinn.
The focus turns to Kamloops next week, where the team will look at taking a big jump from last year's 13th place finish.
"Offensively, we just need to execute and take care of the basketball. If we transition like we can, we should be in the mix.