Down 16-4 in the first quarter against the fifth-ranked team in the nation, it could have all slipped away for Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.)
High School's girls basketball team.
The 25-game win streak. The back-to-back state-title run. The second straight national championship.
All were on the line for the country's No. 1 team and perhaps worse than that, six seniors would have finished off triumphant and picturesque careers with a bitter – and the way this was going – an ugly defeat.
"They really jumped on us," Mater Dei coach Kevin Kiernan said. "Nobody has done that to us all year. We practiced well all week and our energy was good, but I think we maybe came out not to lose. … I think we kind of psyched out ourselves.
"We just needed a spark, a run, a lift to get us going."
The Monarchs needed Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis
As she's done throughout her illustrious career, the 6-foot senior guard drilled a 3-pointer at the end of the first quarter to cut the lead to 16-8. She drilled another with 1:25 left in the half capping off an 18-4 run and giving Mater Dei its first lead 22-20.
Of her team's 22, Mosqueda-Lewis had 16 and the Monarchs would never give up the lead the rest of the way en route to a 59-47 victory over Berkeley in the CIF Division I title game at Power Balance Pavilion in Sacramento.
The University of Connecticut-bound star matched her season high with 33 points as the Monarchs (34-1) secured their second straight national crown and Mosqueda-Lewis cemented her standing as one of the greatest girls players in high school history.
It also etched her name in gold as the 2010-11 MaxPreps National Player of the Year.
"I see why she's an All-American," Berkeley coach Cheryl Draper said. "I see why she's going to UConn."
In the last three weeks, she's also garnered the Naismith, Gatorade and Women's Basketball Coaches Association National Player of the Year awards. She was a first-team MaxPreps All-American as a junior when she averaged 27.3 points, 7.7 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game.
This season – with USC-bound Alexyz Vaioletama (6-1) healthy to help with the scoring load – Mosqueda-Lewis averaged 22.1 points, 6.1 rebounds, 2.7 steals and 2.6 assists per game.
The most important numbers though to Mosqueda-Lewis was her career record at Mater Dei: 123 wins, seven losses, three section titles and two regional, state and national crowns.
"It's incredible what she's done in four years here," Kiernan said. "She's meant so much not only to our program and helped push us from a good California program to the national scene, but she's meant so much to our school."
When asked to reflect on her recent awards, the normally polished and articulate senior with a 3.5 grade point average seemed somewhat overwhelmed.
She joins the company of Lisa Leslie, Candace Parker, Tina Charles, Maya Moore and most recently Skylar Diggins and the Ogwumike sisters, Nneka and Chiney.
"It's just been such an honor," she said. "To think that I'm the best in the nation with just all the great players in California alone, let alone the nation. ... And then thinking of all the great recipients that have won these awards in the past. ... I really don't have words for it."
With excellent size and strength, natural ability and the picture-perfect outside shot, Mosqueda-Lewis worked on all the other facets. Throw in natural confidence and a competitive fire and it all adds up to the top of the girls hoop food chain.
In fact, with 2007 MaxPreps Player of the Year Moore moving on and Mosqueda-Lewis similar in size and skill-set, she may be asked to fill her role at UConn. It will be a great challenge, Kiernan said, but one Mosqueda-Lewis will relish.
"She's got beautiful shooting form and footwork," Kiernan said. "She's got a fantastic mid-range game and if you take away those things, she can post up because she's bigger than most guards. She can just beat you in so many ways."
With all her success, Kiernan said, there is absolutely no baggage or residue of her being the star player. Quite the opposite.
"She works her tail off every practice," he said. "There's no maintenance at all.
"The thing about Kaleena is her maturity is so striking. For being so young, she's always seemed so grown up. I think she's always been around older people and she gets along well with adults. There's a calmness about her. She's very grounded and all of that plays out well in big situations."
Just ask players from Berkeley High.MaxPreps.com's National Players of the Year – 2006 through 2011
2011 – Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, Mater Dei (Calif.)
2010 – Chiney Ogwumike, Cy-Fair (Texas)
2009 – Skylar Diggins, Washington (Ind.)
2008 – Nneka Ogwumike, Cy-Fair (Texas)
2007 - Maya Moore, Collins Hill (Ga.)
2006 - Jackie Gemelos, St. Mary's-Stockton (Calif.)