HANFORD -- The winning team, Hanford High -- the longtime standard-bearer of Central Section girls basketball -- received 39 points and 22 rebounds from Bayli McClard, 20 points from Brooke Johnson, a late steal in overtime from Madison Barnes and subsequent layup by Gabby Gomez.
The losing team, Bullard -- can this effort really be associated with "losing?" -- had Aarion McDonald close the most prolific freshman season in section history by scoring 42 points, Madissen Harp play well inside and, in general, show no intimidation whatsoever as a team in a house known to be unforgiving.
Simply, all that was missing Thursday night in the Bullpups' 83-74 escape against the Knights was Selland Arena.
This was one that deserved to be seen by the masses March 2 in the Division I final.
Instead, it was merely a heart-thumping quarterfinal witnessed by about 1,200 as third-seeded Hanford (23-4) earned a semifinal date Tuesday at No. 2 Clovis West (21-5), which clobbered Buchanan 61-23.
"When it went to overtime, I was kind of like on my toes and freaked out," Gonzaga-bound forward McClard said after delivering the third-highest scoring game in school annals. "But we pretty much stayed calm and played like we can."
Hanford, the West Yosemite League champion, opened the OT with a 7-0 run on two free throws by McClard -- who made 15 of 18 -- a layup by Chellsie Perryman on a splendid bounce pass from Johnson, and a 3 by Gomez.
But oh for the magnificent McDonald.
The 5-foot-3 left-hander -- on a night she surpassed Stephanie Cargill's school single-game scoring record of 40 (1993) and also set a section single-season scoring record of 694 for a freshman, according to section historian Bob Barnett -- dropped in a running floater and two free throws to hack the gap to 75-72.
But that's when the Bullpups put it away, 81-72, in the final 2 minutes on McClard's basket after her two straight offensive rebounds, her layup off a half-court in-bounds pass from Gomez, and Gomez's layup off a Barnes steal.
"I thought if it was close in the end we'd win it," said Hanford coach Tom Parrish, who has won five consecutive section titles in three divisions, including the past two in D-I.
He applauded sixth-seeded Bullard (21-6), the County/Metro Athletic Conference runner-up, which threw history into the wind while playing on the homecourt of a Bullpups program that has won 116 of its past 117 games against section competition.
And he also noted the preparation installed by Knights coach Bill Engel, who was raised in Hanford.
"I don't want to say (the Knights) are arrogant," Parrish said, "but they're pretty confident in their abilities. Bill did a real good job of getting them pumped up. Obviously, Bullard came out really excited."
The Knights might still be standing if not for Harp fouling out a minute into the OT. The sophomore center left with 11 points and 12 rebounds. Her short jumper off a McDonald feed with 2 seconds left in regulation sent it into OT.
"We're posting her up and she's getting easy baskets, then all of a sudden she's out," Engel said. "I thought our girls were tremendous; I mean, they competed like champions. What can I say, coming into a place like this, with all the tradition, and playing their hearts out? I couldn't be more proud."
Incredibly, McDonald didn't flinch after being assessed her third personal foul late in the second quarter. She scored 31 in the second half, and she was defended throughout by a Bee All-Star in Johnson.
"She's legitimate," Parrish said of McDonald. "She gets it done."
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