LA PUENTE — It figures that whoever made the play at the end would win this one, and La Puente's Michael Solis made the play at the end.
Solis made a put-back shot as time ran out giving the Warriors a 76-74 win over Santa Maria in front of an extremely loud, sell-out crowd at La Puente High School in the CIF Southern Section 5AAA semifinals Friday night.
"Great high school basketball game," Santa Maria coach Dave Yamate said afterward.
"They made the play at the end."
La Puente (18-11) will play second seed Santa Clarita Christian for the Division 5AAA championship next Friday or Saturday. Santa Clarita Christian defeated Bloomington 79-54.
The Saints, who tied Santa Ynez for second place in the Los Padres League, finished 20-8.
La Puente stretched its winning streak to six games. The Saints saw their own win streak end at seven.
The Saints, who were trying to get to the divisional championship game in basketball after coming up short in the Division 12 football title game, suffered a wrenching loss in this one.
They wiped out a 16-3 deficit but they couldn't hold a 65-59 lead with 2:42 left in regulation. Ralphie Macias sent the game into overtime for the Warriors when he made a layup with two seconds left in regulation to tie it at 68.
Santa Maria likely would have won in regulation, had Santa Maria's Thomas Segel not been hit with a two-shot technical foul in the first quarter. Macias made both technical foul shots.
"Great learning experience," said Yamate.
The noise from the La Puente crowd was deafening whenever the Saints tried a free throw, and they simply couldn't deliver at the foul line.
They went 10-for-28 on free throws to La Puente's 15-for-26. Besides having a big rebounding game, Jon Ramos led Santa Maria's scoring with 20 points, but he was 1-for-10 on free throws.
"We struggled at the foul line," said Yamate. "It was a loud crowd."
Santa Maria couldn't close it out at the foul line in regulation, making just three of their last six free throws then.
Unofficially, the officials called 44 fouls.
Ramos fouled out near the end of regulation and teammate Clark Kringle fouled out in overtime.
Macias, who led La Puente with a game-high 28 points, also fouled out in overtime.
Ultimately, the Saints couldn't keep Solis and Macias from scoring in the lane at crucial times.
Solis finished with 13 points. The taller Warriors hurt the Saints in the lane, and Jonathan Quiroz scored 12 points, most of those inside.
Adrian Valadez finished with 12 points for La Puente.
The Warriors slowed down Truhitte, the Saints' hard-driving point guard, but Truhitte got more layups in the second half, and scored 11 of his 17 points then.
Joey Nevarez made four of his five 3-point baskets for the Saints. He finished with 18. Kringle had 10.
The Saints relied heavily on the 3-point shot this year. After making seven in the first half of regulation, they made four in the second and missed some at crucial times.
Still, "l'm extremely proud of my guys for the season they had," Yamate said.