In Mallory Dawson's mind, missing the shot was never an option.
Perhaps that's why when she drilled a 3-pointer just before the final buzzer Wednesday night at Centennial, she reacted stoicly, even as the Golden Hawks around her celebrated a 58-56 overtime victory against visiting Fresno-Edison.
"We were never worried," Dawson said. "I just had to think it was going in. I couldn't think anything negative. It felt really good."
Dawson's 3 came on an inbounds play with six seconds left in overtime and Edison leading, 56-55. Zharia McCollum drove into the lane and dished to Dawson in the right corner.
"I think we have one of the best attacking guards in the area in Zharia and one of the best shooters in Mallory," Centennial coach Clayton Madden said. "They stopped the drive, so we knew we had to hit the shot."
McCollum led the Golden Hawks (6-4) with 15 points, and Dawson finished with 11 despite an off shooting night.
"One thing she knows," Madden said, "is that I'm never going to give up on her. She's going to keep getting shots."
Dawson wanted the last one because she had missed one of two free throws earlier in the overtime. That left Centennial with a 55-54 lead, but Edison's Rodjanae Wade hit a layup to give the Tigers (11-5) a 56-55 edge with 10 seconds left.
The teams traded the lead several times in the second half before Dawson tied the game at 52 with 1:06 left.
Juliana Olivera had a chance to win it in regulation for Centennial, but her jumper just before the buzzer missed.
"We needed a game like that," Madden said. "We wanted to test our mental toughness. We're trying to get set for (Southwest Yosemite League) play, and we want more of these games. Hopefully we can come up victorious in them."
Centennial has lost to defending section champion Hanford, Clovis East and Garces (twice), but the Golden Hawks appear to be the favorites in the SWYL with traditional power Stockdale scuffling at 2-7 with a young roster and a new coaching staff.
"I don't want to say that we're the favorites," Madden said. "It's going to be a competitive league. I'll leave it to you guys to say who's the favorites."
This was also an important victory for Centennial as far as Division I playoff seeding. Edison already had defeated D-I teams Clovis East, Fresno-Bullard and Clovis-Buchanan.
Mia Shannon led Edison with 21 points, and Wade added 17. The Tigers erased a five-point third-quarter deficit and led for most of the fourth quarter, but Centennial's defense tightened when it needed to.
"One thing about our team is we have to rely on defense," Madden said. "We can miss shots, but our defense should never fold. I actually don't think we played very well defensively tonight, but we had some good stops when we needed them."
In the end, it was a made shot that made the difference.
"I knew I needed to pick it up," Dawson said. "I was just glad I got a chance to come back and make a big shot."