Freshman guard Lexi Vail scored with eight seconds to help lift the Irvine Valley women's basketball team to a dramatic 66-64 win over Long Beach City in the championship game of the 13th Annual Irvine Valley Tournament on Saturday afternoon.
Irvine Valley improved its record to 9-2 overall and won its own tournament title for the first time since 2014. IVC sophomore forward Kasey Smit, who finished with 19 points, 19 rebounds, four assists and three steals in 39 minutes of action was named the most valuable player of the event. Smit had at least 18 rebounds in all three tournament games with an IVC program record 24 in the team's opening-round win over Southwestern.
Sophomore guard Elizabeth Garcia, who added nine points, six rebounds and five assists, was also named all-tournament for the Lasers.
Irvine Valley looked like it was going to cruise to the title after leading by as many as 23 points in the second quarter and being up, 41-20, at halftime.
But the Lasers went cold in the second half and also had trouble handling the ball. IVC committed 20 turnovers in the second half of the game.
IVC was still in control, however, up, 56-41, heading into the final period.
But Long Beach City made a run, going on a 16-4 run and cutting the IVC lead to 60-57 on a layup by Jada Haynes with 3:22 left in the contest.
Smit knocked down a corner three-pointer to put Irvine Valley ahead, 63-57, with 2:14 to play, but Long Beach City's Doylebonet Walker answered with a three-pointer to make it a three-point game again with 1:53 to go.
And then after a Janay Wellington layup with 1:27 to play, the Vikings were within 63-62.
Long Beach City climbed all the way back and took the lead after all-tournament selection Kendria Rendon came up with a steal and layup. The Vikings led, 64-63, with 12 seconds remaining.
But Irvine Valley's Garcia charged up the floor and found freshman guard Lexi Vail open for a driving layup to put Irvine Valley ahead, 65-64.
Long Beach City turned the ball over on the other end and had to foul. Smit made 1 of 2 free throws with two seconds left and Walker's desperation nearly full-court heave fell short to give Irvine Valley the win and the title.
Sophomore guard Mary Dishoian contributed 14 points, including hitting three three-pointers in the first half as IVC built its big lead.
Sophomore forward Kiara Warren chipped in 10 points, eight rebounds and three steals and Vail had seven points, five rebounds, five assists and three steals in the victory.
IVC hurt itself with turnovers, committing 35 in the contest. The Lasers did out-rebound Long Beach City, 52-38, and had 20 assists as a team on 24 made baskets.
Long Beach City, which saw its record slip to 9-4, was paced by Walker's 22 points. Wellington finished with 11 points, four rebounds and eight steals and Brittany McDaniel had eight points, five rebounds and nine blocks for the Vikings.
Long Beach City also had turnover problems, ending the night with 29. The Vikings committed 20 of those in the first half. Long Beach City was also just 6 of 15 from the free throw line.
Irvine Valley will get a bit of a break from game action now. The Lasers don't play again until Dec. 28 when they open up in the Ventura Tournament.