The myth surrounding the 3-pointer and girls' basketball is that such a long-range shot is an act of desperation, best used to try and overcome a deficit in the final frantic minutes.
Modesto High, however, made the 20-foot shot a key component of their second-half comeback Tuesday night.
The Panthers, down by 13 two minutes into the second half, nailed four treys in the third quarter to rally past Enochs 55-49 and win the Modesto Metro Conference championship on the last night of the regular season.
"This team has gotten so much better in so many areas since the start of the season," said 5-foot-6 guard Natalie Armstrong, who got nine of her 13 points after halftime. "We rebound better, play better defense, pass better. We've worked hard to get better."
It showed in the final 13 minutes of the game, as the Panthers went from a 38-25 deficit to a six-point win. It was the second time Modesto (16-9, 9-1) beat Enochs this season -- the Panthers were 61-43 winners in their first meeting -- but the teams carried 8-1 conference records into the game.
Modesto's 54-44 loss to Johansen two weeks ago had allowed the Eagles (18-8, 8-2) to pull even. That loss also reminded the Panthers that they were vulnerable, Armstrong said.
"We were going along real well, but that Johansen loss was what motivated us this last part of the season," she said. "They way we've been playing, I knew we were going to win the title."
Modesto opens the Sac-Joaquin Section Division 1 playoffs on Feb. 25, but is likely to be on the road. The Panthers were No. 11 in the power ratings released Tuesday, and could climb a spot or two if the right teams lose.
Enochs is also expecting to go to the playoffs, though its position is tenuous. The Eagles are 13th in the power ratings, and only the top 16 advance. The 18-8 record is still likely to land a berth, but it will be one of the last.
That means a first-round game with one of the heavyweights -- Oak Ridge (19-1), Kennedy (17-1) or Napa (18-2).
That could have been Modesto's fate, if not for the impressive second-half play of Armstrong and the Panthers' ability to hit long-range shots.
Down by 13, Jessica Rodriguez (15 points), Kelsey Lemasney and Felicia Cardenas connected on treys for an 11-0 run that got Modesto within two.
Enochs got its lead back to eight behind the inside play of Clairesse DeHart (12 points, six rebounds, seven blocks), but Rey Berry's trey at the buzzer made it 46-41 going into the fourth quarter.
Modesto opened the fourth with a 10-0 run before Enochs scored its only points on Janeya Satkamp's (13 points) 3-pointer with 2:07 to play.
The first eight points of the quarter came in transition, as Armstrong had four of the points and Rodriguez had the other four.
Enochs did a good job containing the transition game through three quarters, but fatigue became a factor.
"We've got a bench that is just as good as our starters, so we're able to go in and out without losing much," Armstrong said. "That's a big advantage, because it allows us to use our speed in the second half when others teams tire."
Enochs made one more bid for the title, getting within two on Satkamp's trey. Armstrong hit two free throws, and after Enochs missed two free throws at the other end and then a layup, Andreinna Cataneda broke free for a layup in the closing seconds.
That set off a celebration on the Panthers' bench and in the stands, where hundreds of Modesto fans had watched nervously much of the night.
"We had let Enochs set the tempo early in the game, and it cost us," said Armstrong, noting the Panthers are at their best when in transition and penetrating to the basket. "It lets us use our quickness and it gets teams tired."
As Enochs grew weary, the Panthers began to drive the baseline, going right to left.
When the weakside defender entered the key to help, the Panthers sent the ball to the far corner for an open shot.
That play produced two of the crucial treys in the third quarter, and it forced the Eagles to exert even more energy.
The up-tempo was not to Enochs' liking, because it has a short bench and is best when in a half-court game.
That's why things looked so promising at halftime, with Enochs taking a 31-22 lead.
The Eagles used a combination of the 6-foot DeHart and Shanika Blunt inside, and Satkamp hitting from the perimeter. Modesto solved that, though, by extending its 2-3 zone beyond the 3-point line.
With Enochs' guards unable to drive past the defenders, it began casting contested 3-pointers and trying to force the ball inside. That led to a bundle of turnovers.
With each miscue, Modesto began gaining momentum -- and with it the MMC championship.