By Nick Giannandrea
College of the Sequoias saved the best for last during the opening night of the 43rd annual Gilcrest Invitational women's basketball tournament.
In the final game of four on the night, the state No. 14-ranked Giants overcame a 24-point deficit late in the third quarter to pull out a 67-66 victory over College of the Canyons on Dec. 5 at Porter Field House.
COS (7-1) advances to face No. 2 Ventura (7-0) in the semifinals of the eight-team tournament at 7 p.m. Dec. 6. The Pirates beat No. 18 Chabot 56-47 to earn their spot in the semifinals.
No. 3 San Joaquin Delta (7-0) and No. 7 Mt. San Antonio (6-2) will square off at 5 p.m. Dec. 6 in the other semifinal after the Mustangs beat L.A. Valley 66-49 and the Mounties downed Reedley 68-42. The final is set for 4 p.m. Dec. 7 at Porter Field House.
Diamyn Davis' 3-pointer with 2:56 remaining in the third quarter put Canyons (1-3) ahead 53-29.
The Giants responded by outscoring the Cougars 11-2 the rest of the third quarter.
COS kept its momentum rolling by opening the fourth quarter with a 17-0 run - including two 3-pointers from Serena Ybarra (Coalinga) and a pair of layups by Alaysia Reed (Las Vegas) - to take a 57-55 lead.
But Canyons rallied with a 10-2 run, capped by McKenzie Stoehr's basket, to go up 65-59 with 3:40 left.
COS' Felicia Ramirez (Caruthers) made 1 of 2 free throws with 25.1 seconds to play to tie the score 66-66.
After a Canyons turnover, took possession with 18 seconds to play and set up for one last shot.
Ramirez, who missed three games earlier this season with a fractured nose, drew a foul off a baseline drive, made the first of two free throws with 1.3 seconds left, then rebounded her miss as time expired to give the Giants their seventh straight win.
Ramirez finished with seven points, a game-leading 16 rebounds, three assists, three steals and a block.
Aubrey Nunes (El Diamante) led COS in scoring with 17 points while adding seven rebounds. Ybarra scored 14 points, Reed had nine points and three assists, while Sapphire Jones contributed eight points, eight rebounds and three steals for the Giants.
In the consolation bracket, Reedley will face L.A. Valley at 1 p.m. and Chabot takes on Canyons at 5 p.m.
COS has won the Gilcrest Invitational the past two seasons, beating Sacramento City 71-66 during the final last season, and Mt. San Antonio 64-51 for the title in 2018.