ORANGE -- The game was in the bag. All that separated third-seeded Orange Lutheran from reaching the Southern Section Division 1A semifinals was eight minutes.
And what an eight minutes it was.
Down by 20 points in the fourth quarter, the Panthers pulled to within five points -- a couple of easy 3-pointers for the long-distance assassins -- with 74 seconds remaining before Gabe York did his thing once again. York's free-throw shooting salvaged the night and Orange Lutheran scored a 79-70 victory on its home floor.
OLu will play host in the semifinals against second-seeded Capistrano Valley, a 67-55 winner at Vista Murrieta. Top-seeded Mission Viejo also won, winning 81-77 in overtime at Valencia West Ranch. Fourth-seeded Crescenta Valley won at home against fifth-seeded El Toro, 61-49, in the other quarterfinal.
York, an Arizona-bound guard, finished the night with 32 points, seven rebounds and five assists. He had 19 points at halftime and the Lancers (19-10) had a 62-42 lead after three quarters, but the team's shooting went cold and the play got sloppy. It wasn't until 3:10 remained in the game that York's drive to the basket netted the first field goal of the quarter for Lutheran, which made only 2-of-8 field goals in the period.
At the free-throw line, though, OLu shot like pros. They made 15-of-21, with York making 11-of-14. This, despite making only 5-of-14 through three quarters.
Payton Banks scored 22 with five assists and four rebounds for OLu, and Darien Williams had 15 points and six boards.
They were too much for the 3-point shooting of Corona (18-11), an at-large team from the Big VIII League that made eight threes in a second-round victory over Sea View League champ Aliso Niguel. The Panthers made 10 against OLu, including three by three different players in a 47-second span to pull to 70-65 with 1:14 left in the game. But York made nine of 12 from the free-throw line the rest of the way.
That was enough to turn back the 35-point effort of Corona's Marcos Hazelwood, who had four 3-pointers. Ethan Alvano scored 15 for Corona, which converted 21-of-24 from the free-throw line.