The success of the Independence girls basketball team over the past several years has been due in large part to the Falcons defensive prowess.

It was a strong defensive effort late that carried Independence to a 48-41 overtime victory over Golden Valley in South Yosemite League action on Thursday night.

The visiting Falcons (18-4, 7-0 SYL) didn’t allow the Bulldogs to score a single point the final five minutes and 43 seconds of the game, outscoring Golden Valley 7-0 in overtime.

The Bulldogs (20-6, 5-2 SYL) were 0 for 6 from the field in OT.

“We decided to play our best defense in overtime,” Independence co-coach Val Mancera said. “We were searching for that all game long. They found it in overtime, thankfully. They earned it.”

Kahlaijah Dean, last year’s BVarsity All-Area Player of the Year, scored a game-high 17 points and Dasia Wandick added 13 points for the Falcons, who extended their SYL winning streak to 37 games.

However, neither of the two girls scored in overtime.

All of Independence’s points in the extra four-minute period came from Aariyana Egan and Asia Kerwin.

Kerwin sank a short floater in the lane to put the Falcons ahead 43-41 before Egan banked in a 12-footer from just outside the right side of the key and then buried a 3-pointer from the left wing for the final margin of victory.

Despite playing the final 17 minutes without an injured Tiffany Amos, its top scorer this year, Golden Valley fought back from a six-point third-quarter deficit and had a chance to win the game in regulation time.

But after calling a timeout with the score tied 41-41 and 17.1 seconds remaining, the Bulldogs were unable to score.

Dean never doubted that the Falcons would be able to pull the game out.

“I just knew that as long as we played as a team, weren’t selfish on court, fought through screens, and played good defense we would take that game,” Dean said.

The two teams exchanged the lead 10 times during the game’s two and half quarters.

The Bulldogs, who were paced in scoring by Elyssa Brumfield with 12 points, tied the game up twice in the fourth quarter but never led after the early stages of the third period.

“Independence played like a team that’s played at Selland Arena for the past three seasons,” Golden Valley coach Curt Wilson said. “They stepped up and had multiple defensive stops. We had a chance to win it but that’s what happens when you play the No. 3 team in the Valley. I’m very proud how my girls competed.”