The Tri-River Athletic Conference girls basketball game matching No. 3 Clovis West and No. 5 Clovis underwent a dramatic reversal Tuesday night.
And the tide had turned against host Clovis West, whose 12 Central Section titles listed on the wall from the past 23 years suddenly weren't helping.
A 63-48 Golden Eagles lead was hacked to 63-59 as Cougars guard Samantha Earl -- hardly a factor for the first 30 of the game's 32 minutes -- was coming alive.
"It was all coming down to the end," Eagles veteran point guard Sydne Gutierrez said. "And I had to knock down those free throws."
She made two with 38 seconds remaining and Portia Neale added two with 7.3 to go as Clovis West escaped 67-59.
"I told the girls before the game this was going to be a measuring stick, that we were going to know if we're a contender or a pretender," Eagles coach Craig Campbell said. "Everything we've done since May has been for games like this. And this validates where we thought we were. It also validates where Clovis is; they're excellent."
A two-team runaway in the TRAC has Clovis West (15-5, 5-0) with a one-game lead over Clovis (18-6, 4-1) after the first round.
They will close the regular season in a rematch at the Cougars' gym Feb. 15.
Section Division I seeding will be determined the following day, likely featuring six teams -- two-year defending champion Hanford, Clovis West, Clovis, Bullard, Stockdale and Edison, which won 56-51 at home Tuesday in a County/Metro Athletic Conference game against Bullard.
"We're competing for a high seed," Campbell said. "And it's going to be a war."
He found himself involved in one in the final minutes against Clovis, which showed the hardening of a schedule that has seen it split with No. 4 Bullard, beat Edison and Stockdale and only lose 52-46 to No. 2 Hanford.
Earl, a junior averaging 18 points, scored six in the first 30 minutes -- 7 of which she didn't play in the third quarter because of four fouls. That's when the Eagles expanded a four-point lead to 16 entering the fourth.
"I had no choice," Cougars coach Steve Perkovich said. "If we were going to make a run, it was going to be in the fourth quarter, and we did."
An Earl 3-pointer and two free throws, and a Brooke Vidmar 3-pointer highlighted the 11-0 Clovis surge that reduced the margin to 63-59. Earl, defended well by Neale, with help from freshman Aysha Kirkland, finished with 11 points.
"Portia in my opinion is the best defender in the league, if not the Valley," Campbell said. "And Aysha may be the second best."
The Eagles, consistent with a pattern that had them arrive with six players averaging 6.1 to 15.7 points, received 12 from Emily Anderson and Briana Watts, nine from Kirkland, Neale and Mariah Ruiz, and eight from Gutierrez.
Vidmar and senior point guard Kristy Savanpanyadeth finished with 16 and 15 for Clovis, which had beaten Clovis West 43-30 here last year.