Los Angeles Preps: Andrea Villanueva

LA South and Orange County: Bishop Amat 40, Irvine 38

February, 19, 2011
IRVINE -- There are some divisions in the Southern Section girls' basketball playoffs that ought to be sure things. Brea vs. Long Beach Poly or Mater Dei in Division 1AA, Edison vs. Troy in 1A.

But swing down to Division 3A and it's as wide open as a Montana highway. That was clear Saturday, when third-seeded Bishop Amat scraped out a 40-38 victory over 14th-seeded Irvine.

The Lancers (23-6) are a stalwart of the section playoffs since 1999. But Irvine (15-13) very nearly won its biggest game in a decade. When the final two minutes decided the outcome, Irvine had three players foul out and another leave because of an ankle injury.

Fortunate? Yeah, Bishop Amat was fortunate.

"Somebody said there's no such thing as an ugly playoff win," Bishop Amat coach Richard Wiard said. "They lied. Survive and advance. Survive and advance."

It was an ugly game of survival, all right. Bishop Amat could have dominated, Irvine could have won easily. It could have been anyone's game in a division in which top-seeded Orange Lutheran has lost to second-seeded Bonita which has lost to third-seeded Bishop Amat.

In the end, Irvine's inability to convert its free throws may have been the decisive component. The Vaqueros had only five attempts through the first three quarters, but 10 in the fourth and made only four. They finished six of 15.

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