Pioneer Valley's girls basketball team had done a good job in hanging around in basketball games this season.
What the Panthers had not done was WIN any of those games. That changed Friday night.
Freshman Chyanna Medina Tell scored 17 points, the Panthers made seven of their 10 free throws down the stretch and Pioneer Valley, with no subs available for the last 12:41, held on to beat crosstown rival St. Joseph 45-39 in a non-league crosstown rivalry game at Pioneer Valley.
"This was big for our girls," said Pioneer Valley coach Michael Bloodworth.
"We hadn't been closing out teams. Tonight we closed out a team. People who hadn't been making plays were making plays. It was a fantastic team effort."
Pioneer Valley moved to 1-3. St. Joseph is 1-2.
Save two made free throws with about 30 seconds left by Maddie Miller, point guard Natalie Reynoso and Corey Fowler scored all of St. Joseph's last 13 points.
Fowler scored four points then Reynoso, mostly on drives to the paint, scored nine more as St. Joseph trimmed what had been a 31-22 Pioneer Valley lead to 36-35 with 3:29 left.
However, point guard Ravynn Anelski made two free throws with 2:55 to play, and the Panthers began to salt the win away. With some savvy ball-handling, Medina Tell drained the shot clock on two successive possessions down the stretch and drew a foul both times.
Each time, she made one of two free throws.
"I was just trying to work the shot clock down," said Medina Tell.
"This was a big win for us, especially since we were struggling this game."
If part of the reason, the Panthers were struggling was because of fatigue, that would be understandable. Just six of the nine Panthers on the roster suited up, and when Letty Medina fouled out at the 5:41 mark of the third quarter it was left to the rest of the Panthers to go the distance.
"One of our players was sick, and two were on an AVID trip," said Bloodworth. Thus, the personnel shortage for the Panthers.
For one reason or another, "None of our nine players have played in the same game," said Bloodworth.
Brianna Robles, for one, said she was not fatigued. as the game wore on Friday night. "I never get tired," the Pioneer Valley forward said after she pulled down some big offensive rebounds late and scored a key, contested basket inside to put the Panthers ahead 43-37 at the 1:13 mark of the fourth quarter.
Anelski finished with 13 points. All six Panthers scored. Reynoso scored 15 points for St. Joseph and Fowler had 14.
St. Joseph shot 16 free throws in the first half but didn't take full advantage, making only eight. Pioneer Valley went five-for-eight from the line in the first half.
The foul shooting situation was dramatically different in the second half.. The Panthers shot 22 free throws and made 13. The Knights shot just three free throws. They made all three.
"I think this win will give us a lot of momentum," said Robles.
St. Joseph will play host Lompoc at 1 p.m. Saturday in the Bryan Ayer Classic at Lompoc. Pioneer Valley will play Taft at 3:30 p.m. next Thursday in the San Luis Obispo Winter Tournament
Morro Bay Tourney
Santa Maria 63, Atascadero 58
The Saints (2-2) rallied from 12-point deficits in both halves to beat the Greyhounds in a second-round game between two Ocean League games.
Santa Maria snapped a two-game losing streak.
Sylvester Espinoza led the Saints with 18 points. His points came on six 3-pointers. Jon Garcilazo made some key baskets for Santa Maria and wound up with 13 points and seven rebounds.
Thomas Segel finished with 11 points and made two important free throws to put the Saints up by five with 30 seconds left. Rolando Pina, Santa Maria's 6-foot-6 center, pulled down 13 rebounds.
"Our defensive pressure and team effort helped us pull out this win," Santa Maria coach Dave Yamate said in a text.
Santa Maria will play Nipomo at 10:30 a.m. Saturday for the consolation championship. The Saints will finish their tournament appearance with a 1:30 p.m. out-of-bracket game.
St. Joseph 97, San Francisco O'Connell 28
SAN FRANCISCO - The Knights (1-0) opened their season with a win in a non-league rout.
Six Knights scored in double figures. Tim Noe led St. Joseph with 18 points. Angel Ortiz put in 16 points and Steven Vasquez added 14.
Sam Bazunga tallied 13 points for St. Joseph, and Kainoa Keuma and Isaiah Tell both had 11.
St. Joseph led 28-10 after the first quarter. Deon Louie led O'Connell with nine points.