Cordova High senior Troy Owens isn't much for wasted motion.
After being fouled attempting a 3-point shot, Owens stood at the free-throw line with his team trailing by one late in the third quarter of Friday night's Sac-Joaquin Section Division 2 boys basketball play-in game against Johansen High.
"All that extra stuff? I don't bother with," said Owens, a 5-foot-10, cat-quick guard who averages 20 points a game for the Lancers. "Just three dribbles and pull."
Nine dribbles and three "pulls" later, 20th-seeded Cordova regained a lead it would never relinquish en route to a 58-48 victory over the No. 13 Vikings.
The season is finished for Johansen (14-14), while Cordova (17-10) advances to play No. 4 Grant on Wednesday in Sacramento.
Owens' cool under pressure was needed only because he and his teammates blew a cozy 25-9 first-half lead, built largely on the success of their trapping defense and Johansen's lethargic start.
"They had more energy to start the game and they took it to us a little bit," said Johansen coach Allan Davis. "They were a little more athletic and kept us from making basketball plays when they would trap and trap and trap."
Cordova's trap led to numerous Johansen turnovers, and that 25-9 lead would've been larger if Cordova hadn't been so cold from the field. But after falling behind by 16, the Vikings went on a 16-7 run to close the half, and were right back in it.
"Coach always tells us that nothing is handed to you, you have to take it," said senior guard Edward Chavez, who led the Vikings with 13 points. "That's what I thought about (at halftime)."
Davis also tells them, from time to time when their defensive intensity lags, that they're switching to a zone.
"I threaten them with zone and they pick it up a little bit," said Davis. "The kids take a lot of pride in how they defend man to man. They are extreme fighters."
After getting close by halftime, Johansen opened the third quarter on an 11-4 surge to tie it 36-36, and eventually went ahead 39-36. But that's when Owens took over, slashing through the paint for a lay-in, and then hitting the three freebies to make it 41-39.
"He's a very solid ballplayer," said Cordova coach Fletcher Johnson of Owens. "We'll have to lean on him for leadership ... if we're going to continue in the playoffs."
Cordova eventually stretched its margin back to 11, but the Vikes managed to give them one more scare getting a put-back from Chavez, a lay-in from Pablo Ochoa, a 3-pointer from Matt Evans (11 points) and two free throws from Ashur Athneil as they made it a three-point game with 2½ minutes remaining.
But three more free throws by Owens he was 8-of-9 from the stripe and a bucket by Marquis Bolden sealed it.
"I'm proud of what we did this year," said Athneil, who finished with 11 points. "Probably nobody expected us to come this far. But we did."