CHINO — Up by 18 points at halftime, it didn't stand to reason that the Burroughs High girls' basketball team would have to sweat another close finish.
Yet, the Indians found themselves again in a tight contest late, this time against host Chino in the second round of the CIF Southern Section Division I-A playoffs on Wednesday evening.
Fortunately for Burroughs, the setting was familiar to a squad that won a Pacific League championship thanks in part to several close victories.
That experience paid dividends, as the sixth-seeded Indians (24-6) held off a massive rally by the Cowboys en route to a 56-52 victory.
Burroughs' win vaults the Indians into Saturday's quarterfinal at home at 7 p.m. versus third-seeded Huntington Beach (26-2), which punched its ticket after a 51-35 triumph at Westminster on Wednesday.
"We're not used to having such a big lead like being up 18 at halftime," Burroughs Coach Vicky Oganyan said. "We're more accustomed to those close league games that we were able to find ways to pull out.
"Maybe that was the best thing we had going is that we've been in so many of these games."
The Indians saw a five-point fourth-quarter advantage trimmed to 53-52 with 2:10 remaining on a three-pointer from Chino senior standout Taylor Brown, who led all players with 26 points.
While Burroughs missed on a three-point attempt on its next possession, the Indians defense also held the Mt. Baldy League-champion Cowboys (23-4) to a long-three point try from Brown that rimmed out.
Burroughs took possession with 1:07 remaining as junior guard Delany Nicol brought the ball upcourt before dishing to senior Paula Galicia, who drove the baseline and kicked to teammate Davina Del Castillo.
The Indians guard caught the pass and buried a 16-footer with 52.3 seconds left to put the visitors ahead, 55-52.
"It was intense," said Del Castillo, who had 10 points and 14 rebounds. "We didn't want an overtime game, but we also wanted to get a good shot. I had the chance and just shot."
Chino attempted to counter Del Castillo's jumper with its inside game and went to sophomore forward Alyssa Gonzalez, who was fouled with 33.9 seconds remaining.
The contest turned against the Cowboys when Gonzalez (six points, 14 rebounds and six blocks) missed both her attempts and the Indians rebounded.
After a timeout from each side and some frantic back-court dribbling by the Indians, Burroughs senior Jakarra Waddell was fouled with 7.2 seconds remaining.
Waddell sank one of two free throws and finished three for four in the quarter as the Indians cemented the 56-52 score.
"Clutch free-throwing shooting isn't something that can be taught, the girls just are clutch or they aren't," Oganyan said. "Thankfully, again, we've been in this position so many times that we're experienced."
The path to the quarterfinals looked like little more than a cakewalk for the Indians, who rode the back of senior guard Sidney Ortega, who sank four threes and scored 16 of her team's 23 points as Burroughs took a 23-9 lead after the first.
The Indians continued their strong shooting as Brooke Radcliff scored eight of her nine points in the second quarter and Burroughs steamed to a 41-23 lead at the half.
"I think we took it easy in the third quarter," said Ortega, who finished with 19 points. "We didn't come out and play our best and Chino came back on us."
A half's worth of momentum collapsed for the Indians, who shot one for 14 from the field in comparison to Chino's 10-for-23 shooting.
Overall, the Cowboys won the third quarter, 23-4, and took a 46-45 lead after three thanks to an offensive rebound and put back from Zibley Zaragoza.
In the third quarter alone, 10 of Chino's points came on offensive putbacks.
"I told the girls that they couldn't be comfortable and I don't think they were," Oganyan said. "We just had a bad quarter and Chino had a good one.
"They were 23-3 coming into this game, so they were going to come back. But the good thing is that we're moving on."