Cabrillo trailed for much of the game Friday night in front of a loud home gym until surging ahead in the final two minutes to beat rival Lompoc 40-33.
The game was dominated by defense and neither team found consistent offensive rhythm in the frenetic tempo of full-court press used by the Braves and Conqs. The score was only 20-14 in favor of Lompoc at the break as the Conqs and Braves hunkered down in a game that seemed to have a physical cost for each point scored.
Lompoc led 33-32 with with 2:12 in the fourth quarter when Cabrillo finished the game on an 8-0 run. The rally started with a three-pointer made by Devan McCune — only the second one made in the game by Cabrillo — to put the Conqs ahead 35-33.
Devan McCune finished with a team-high 17 points. Brittney McCune added 13 points and 13 rebounds.
"It's such a neat experience playing Lompoc, because both our teams are so evenly matched," said Jared McCune, Cabrillo's head coach. "It really comes down to who executes the best."
All week, the Conqs talked about how to overcome the physical presence of Lompoc's starting five. McCune said he was "proud" of how the team battled for rebounds. And he was even happier with the group's mental resiliency after trailing most of the game.
"We didn't panic," he said. "Some of that is our seniors, Jenna (Daley) and Devan, helping control the pace of the game. Ultimately it was just a team effort."
Daley said the Conqs expected a physical battle with Lompoc and they needed to stay "calm" on the court.
Notably, the Conqs kept their composure while the team's leading scorer, sophomore Erin Jenkins, was held scoreless in the game. Lompoc's Cheyenne Marmelejo — last year's defensive MVP in the Los Padres League — seemed attached to Jenkins' hip throughout the game, which was the plan, said Lompoc head coach Claudia Terrones.
"Cheyenne did a fantastic job," Terrones said.
But Lompoc couldn't do enough on offense to complement the work of the defense, Terrones said.
The Braves' Danielle Morgan led the team with 11 points, with several of her baskets off nice assists from Rylee Sager. The senior guard finished with eight points.
The Braves hadn't played a game since the Tournament of Champions on Dec. 23 because their game against Santa Maria on Tuesday was canceled. Lompoc's defense held opponents to 35 points a game in three tournament wins in Santa Barbara.
Free throw shooting was the statistic that jumped out to Terrones when she considered how the Braves came up just short. Lompoc was 1-of-10 from the line in the game.
Cabrillo made 7-of-10 free throws in the fourth quarter as the Conqs drove at the basket when shots weren't falling.