The Irvine Valley women's basketball team won its 11th-straight game in conference, 12th overall and secured an outright Orange Empire Conference title on Wednesday night at home.
But it certainly wasn't easy.
Irvine Valley had to rally from a 10-point halftime deficit to pull out a 62-58 victory over a spirited Santa Ana team on sophomore night inside Hart Gymnasium.
The Lasers, ranked fifth in the state and third in Southern California, improved their record to 24-3 overall and 11-0 in conference.
The conference title is the first one for Irvine Valley since the 1998-99 season, which was Hanks' first with the program.
Irvine Valley had to fully earn the title Wednesday night, outscoring Santa Ana, 39-25, in the second half for the win.
Santa Ana broke open a close game late in the first half with an 8-2 run. A three-pointer by Rachel Cain put the Dons up, 27-21, with 3:48 left in the half.
Santa Ana also scored the final six points of the half to take a 33-23 lead into the break.
The Dons shot 50 percent (15 of 30) in the first half and had Cain, Alysia Gamboa and Kylie Rodriguez each with eight points.
Meanwhile, IVC shot just 31.3 percent (10 of 32) in the opening half and committed 11 turnovers.
Irvine Valley was a different team in the second half.
The Lasers came out and scored the first 10 points. A three-point play by sophomore center Breanna Turner, a layup by Turner and then a jumper by sophomore forward Conerie Brennan tied the game at 33-33 with 16:14 left to play.
Santa Ana was still up, 40-39, with 12:39 left when Irvine Valley finally took control.
Two free throws by Brennan started a 6-0 run for the Lasers.
A steal and layup by freshman guard Tara Casey gave Irvine Valley a 45-40 lead with 10:52 left.
IVC stretched its advantage to 52-44 on a three-pointer by sophomore guard Karli Kato with 7:20 remaining.
Two free throws by freshman guard Erika Mercado seemed to give Irvine Valley a comfortable 60-50 lead with 2:50 to play.
But Santa Ana made one last charge. A three-point play by Vanessa Ramirez, a jumper by Jocelyn Calvillo and then a three-pointer by Ramirez pulled the Dons to within 60-58 with 1:08 left.
Mercado missed a pair of free throws on the other end, but she ended up grabbing the offensive rebound on the second miss.
Freshman guard Jordan Coleman then made one of two free throws to give IVC a 61-58 lead with 36 seconds to play.
After two missed shot attempts by Santa Ana, Turner was fouled and made one of two free throws to give Irvine Valley a 62-58 lead with 14 seconds remaining.
The Lasers shot a notable 63.6 percent (14 of 22) in the second half.
Santa Ana shot just 26.9 percent (7 of 26) in the final 20 minutes.
Turner led Irvine Valley with 14 points, nine rebounds and three assists. Casey finished with 12 points, seven rebounds, three blocks and three steals.
Brennan added eight points, Kato had seven points and Coleman and Mercado each finished with six points for IVC. Coleman also contributed five rebounds and six assists.
Santa Ana was paced by Gamboa, who had 13 points, Ramirez, who finished with 10 points and Rodriguez, who had nine points and eight rebounds.
Irvine Valley will try and go undefeated in conference on Friday when it closes out the regular season at Fullerton with a 7 p.m. game.
IVC has never gone unbeaten in conference before. When they won their title in 1998-99, the Lasers were 13-1.