HERCULES -- Sydney Vidal made two free throws with 3.0 seconds left to allow the Pinole Valley High girls basketball team to hold on to a 66-62 win over host Hercules on Tuesday in the first round of the North Coast Section Division III playoffs.
The ninth-seeded Spartans (18-10), who advanced to the second round against No. 1 Miramonte on Friday, nearly blew a 28-point second half lead to the Titans (17-11).
Pinole Valley never trailed in the game, opening up a 6-0 lead just 47 seconds into the game, forcing Hercules coach Daniel Guy to call a timeout. The Spartans got separation in the second quarter, outscoring the Titans 18-4 to take a 37-15 lead at halftime. By midway in the third quarter, the advantage had grown to 46-18.
But then, Hercules started battling back. The Titans pulled to 64-54 with 1:49 to go on a 3-pointer by Alyssa Wong. With 5.2 seconds left, Alyssa Rodriguez hit a 3-pointer to cut the lead to 64-62.
Then, Vidal was fouled and all but iced the game with her free throws.
"Oh, no," Vidal said when asked if she was nervous shooting the free throws. "I'm in my own world. Just me and the hole."
Turnovers played a big role in the Hercules comeback -- the Titans forced 28 on the night including nine in the fourth quarter.
Kiley Levesque had a huge night for Pinole Valley, making seven of 10 3-pointers and leading all scorers with 31 points. If that wasn't enough, she also pulled down 11 rebounds and handed out six assists — also game-highs. Jessica Rogers was the only other Spartan in double-figures with 13 points.
Etiene Ekanem came off of the bench to lead Hercules with 21 points. Leah Gray, also off the bench, scored 17.
Pinole Valley advanced to play top-seed Miramonte on Friday.