It was just a little over a week ago that the Redwood Rangers were playing for a share of first place in the West Yosemite League boys basketball race.
But there's nothing like a small glut of hard-luck losses to spoil a possible championship campaign and send a team tumbling near the league cellar -- which is exactly what has happened to the Rangers over the span of 10 days.
And now the Rangers need a quick reversal of fortunes or they'll be prohibited from entering the Central Section playoffs.
The Lemoore Tigers edged Redwood 65-64 in overtime Thursday at Redwood.
In terms of gut-wrenching losses, Redwood has had more than its fill since it entered last week's game against Mt. Whitney with a chance to claim a share of first place:
* Redwood squandered a fourth-quarter lead and fell 62-59 to Mt. Whitney on Jan. 22 with Ethan Moore sinking a 26-footer at the buzzer.
* The Rangers dropped a 54-51 overtime decision to Hanford at home on Jan. 24.
And then there was Thursday's dose of Heartbreak City.
Down 50-39 midway in the fourth quarter, Redwood rallied to take a 54-53 lead with 25.8 seconds left on a Ricky Ramirez layup. The Rangers pushed the margin to two points with a Riley Gerberick free throw at the 12.6-second mark.
The Tigers tied the game on the ensuing possession with Elijah Brown following up a missed jumper with a layup at the 7-second mark. The Rangers weren't able to get off a quality shot and the game went into overtime.
Lemoore held a 64-59 lead with 28 seconds left in overtime, but the Rangers had a chance to win the game with a 5-1 run to close within one. Ramirez just missed a 28-footer at the buzzer.
"After the way we played against Hanford West on Tuesday (a 52-32 loss), I wasn't sure how this team would come out here tonight," Redwood coach Darryl Hardwick said. "But I'm very proud of how my team played. They gave a great effort. We just missed out on a couple of opportunities to win this game. We gave ourselves a chance at the end of the game, and as a coach, that's all you could ask for."
Ramirez scored 15 points to lead Redwood. Josh Carr and Mikey Montoya each scored 12 points. The Rangers held a lead that lasted two quarters. They were up 6-4 with 5:47 left in the first half, and Lemoore wasn't able to tie the game until the 5:54 mark (26-26) in the third quarter.
Redwood (11-12, 3-6) closes up the regular season with three games against its three fellow Visalia schools. If the Rangers win at least two two of those games, it guarantees them a .500 overall record, a school district prerequisite for postseason play.
However, the Rangers lost two of those three games during the first run through the league slate, falling to El Diamante (63-56) and Mt. Whitney (62-59). Redwood hosts El Diamante on Wednesday, followed by visits to Golden West (Feb. 8) and Mt. Whitney (Feb. 15).
"We can do this," Hardwick said. "In three of the last four games, we've been right there at the end. Defensively, we're keeping teams under 60 points. Offensively, we're struggling, but we'll get ready for El Diamante. We need two wins."