The Irvine Valley women's basketball team's 55-52 win in overtime over district-rival Saddleback Friday night at home wasn't easy.
But it turned out to be big in a number of ways.
The Lasers, ranked No. 7 in the state and fourth in Southern California, stayed in first place in the Orange Empire Conference.
IVC improved its record to 21-3 overall and 8-0 in conference. The team holds a one-game lead over Cypress in the standings.
The win also gave Irvine Valley the Presidents' Cup series trophy in its rivalry with Saddleback.
The two men's games and two women's games played in conference this season between IVC and Saddleback were weighed. The two schools split the four games. The Lasers won on point differential.
The victory was also important as it was coach Julie Hanks' 300th with the program.
Hanks, in her 17th year with the Lasers, now has a record of 300-185.
Irvine Valley won despite getting beat on the boards, 51-40, making just 2 of 15 three-pointers (13.3 percent) on the night and losing its star player in overtime.
Sophomore center Breanna Turner fouled out just a minute into the extra period. The game was stilled tied, 49-49.
Irvine Valley still found a way.
A layup by freshman guard Jordan Coleman put IVC in front, 51-49. Saddleback came right back with a basket by Hannah Saliba to tie it 51-51, with 3:13 remaining.
And a free throw by Emily Cox put Saddleback ahead, 52-51, with 2:39 left.
But the Gauchos didn't score again.
Two free throws by Coleman gave Irvine Valley the lead for good at 53-52 with 2:19 to go.
Sophomore guard Karli Kato sank two more free throws with 17 seconds to play to give Irvine Valley a 55-52 advantage.
Saddleback had one more chance, but a three-point attempt by Deja Brooks was off the mark with two seconds to play.
Irvine Valley led, 47-42, with 3:28 left in regulation after a pair of free throws by Turner.
But Saddleback clawed back to tie the game and send it to the extra period.
Down, 49-45, Brooks made a jumper with 1:34 to go and then after an IVC turnover and foul, Brooks made two free throws with 47 seconds left to tie it at 49-49.
Brooks missed a jumper with six seconds left for Saddleback and Coleman was off on a three-pointer at the buzzer for Irvine Valley and the game went to overtime.
On the night, Irvine Valley shot 35.6 percent (21 of 59) as a team from the field, while Saddleback shot 29.2 percent (19 of 65).
Turner led Irvine Valley with 20 points and eight rebounds. Coleman, who played just two minutes in the first half because of foul trouble, finished with 14 points. Freshman guard Erika Mercado added 10 points and Kato had seven points and five rebounds. She made a huge three-pointer to rally IVC back from a deficit in the second half.
Saddleback (13-13, 4-5) got 16 points and 10 rebounds from Brooks, 14 points and nine rebounds from Shatiana Daniels and 12 points from Emily Cox in the defeat.
Irvine Valley plays at Riverside next Tuesday at 7 p.m.