Johansen High's boys basketball team watched Downey chip away at its 12-point halftime lead, and held just a two-point advantage minutes into the fourth quarter.
The Vikings were able to resuscitate the margin to four, then six, then eight. But it was too late. The Knights were within shouting distance and believed they were back in it.
Johansen needed a break.
The Vikings got one, when Edward Chavez launched a 3-point attempt from the left corner, then watched for what must've seemed like seconds as the ball bounced about 4 feet above the rim and, ultimately, through the twine for a back-breaking basket that propelled the Vikes to a 60-47 Modesto Metro Conference victory.
The win gives Johansen at least a share of the league title and, more importantly, a trip to the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs.
"I felt it was the right shot to take at that time," said the senior Chavez, who sensed his team needed a little elbow room. "It felt good when I released it, but then it hit the back iron and I wasn't sure."
Chavez's 3-ball, his second in a two-minute stretch, made it 49-38. From there, Johansen outscored Downey 11-9 to close the game, with nine of those points coming on the stripe. In fact, the Vikings were perfect on their final 10 free-throw attempts of the contest.
"We are a very, very good free-throw shooting team," said Johansen coach Allan Davis. "This is by far my best free-throw shooting team in my five years here."
The free throws were big. Chavez's shot was bigger.
"It was the biggest shot of the game," said Davis. "It helped us to take a deep breath."
Downey's Blake Houser, who led all scorers with 22 points including six in a row during an 8-0 run to start the second half agreed.
"The momentum shifted in their favor after that," said Houser, a 6-2 senior. "Once the lead got to double digits with that much time left (3 minutes, 42 seconds), it's hard to fight back from that."
But fight Downey did.
After a ragged opening five minutes, in which they had great difficulty handling Johansen's press and missed several easy attempts, the Knights jousted their way to an 18-10 advantage in the third quarter and trailed 39-35 heading into the final eight minutes of play.
Mitchell Evans' jumper opened the scoring in the fourth to make it a two-point game, but a free throw by Pablo Ochoa and the first of Chavez's 3-pointers began to stretch the lead and set the stage for the Chavez's high-bouncer.
"That's the biggest shot of the night," said Downey coach Doug Streeter. "That was it. Sometimes, it bounces that way."
With 2:14 to play in the third quarter, Downey's momentum took a hit when guard P.J. Wilson left the game.
While going for the ball down on the block, Wilson fell hard to the ground, just out of bounds under the basket. It was clear Wilson was hurting, and when he stood up, it was clear he was injured. His right shoulder protruded grotesquely from the socket, drawing an audible gasp from spectators. One didn't need a medical degree see that the shoulder was dislocated.
Wilson disappeared into the locker room and reappeared minutes later with a large bag of ice strapped to the shoulder.
Gregori defeated Enochs 63-48 on Friday and now must beat Modesto at home Tuesday to keep pace with Johansen.