You can't afford to use much logic in deciphering how this season's West Yosemite League championship race is panning out -- just a few days ago there was just a half-game separating the top six teams in the seven-team circuit.
So with that in mind, it should come as no surprise that a Mt. Whitney Pioneer team that is devoid of any returning starting players from last year's team is now in the catbird's seat after the first rotation of the league schedule.
The Pioneers claimed a share of first place with a thrilling 62-59 win over the Redwood Rangers in a crucial WYL game Tuesday at Redwood High School.
The game wasn't decided until Mt. Whitney junior Ethan Moore nailed a 26-footer as time expired to break a 59-59 deadlock.
"This was a big win. First place was on the line, it's against your crosstown rivals, the long Whitney-Redwood history, it doesn't get any better than this," Moore said.
Mt. Whitney (10-8, 4-2) is right where it wants to be in its quest for a third straight WYL championship: Tied for first place with six games left, and three of those games are at home against arguably its top three challengers (El Diamante, Hanford West and Redwood) for the league crown.
The Pioneers are tied with Hanford West (13-9, 4-2). Sitting a game back is El Diamante (9-9, 3-3) and Redwood (11-9, 3-3).
"This is where we want to be," Mt. Whitney coach Bob Aguilar said. "We have to win at home, and we need to steal two wins on the road. I like that after a rocky start this team has come back to be in this postilion. We're concentrating on what we have to do. This is a great league this year, and it's going to take a great effort to win it."
Moore's game-winning heroics had a strong dash of dramatic flair.
There were six lead changes in the game, and four ties, including two ties in the fourth quarter.
The final tie was with the score at 59-all with 23.7 seconds left. Mt. Whitney coughed up the ball with 14 seconds left. Redwood's Jadon Brown came up with the loose ball, and was fouled with 12.3 seconds on the clock.
But Brown missed both free throws, and Moore was casually taking his time up the floor for a possible game-winning shot. By the time he crossed the half-court line, there was less than four seconds left.
No problem for Moore.
He planted his feet a little over six feet in front of the top of the key, and nailed his shot as the clock hit 0:00.
"I wanted the shot. I was feeling it. I'm glad (the coaches) let me do it," Moore said.
"Ethan has a tremendous awareness of the situation," Aguilar said. "He figured out where he needed to be, and he had enough composure to get at least a good shot off. Sometimes they go in to win, sometimes they don't. It's nice to be on the reverse side after what happened (in last year's Division III title game)."
Was he ever worried that he was going to run out of time?
"Honestly, no," Moore said. "I wanted to make sure that I got a clean look, and I got it in time."
Mt. Whitney was down 54-43 with seven minutes left, but it was able to erase the nine-point deficit in just three minutes with the game tied 54-54 with 4:09 remaining.
"It was one of those games where there's a lot of rivalry, a lot of emotion, and I said last week that the team that executed the best was going to win, and (Mt. Whitney) executed with a big-time shot at the very end," Redwood coach Darryl Hardwick said.
What led to the Rangers fourth-quarter downfall?
"We started getting careless with the ball. Too many turnovers," Hardwick said. "The big key in the fourth quarter was that (Mt. Whitney) was nine for 11 from the free-throw line. We missed eight free throws in the fourth quarter. You have to be able to close the game by controlling the turnovers and making your free throws, and we didn't do that."
Dannon Frigulti had a team-high 16 points for Mt. Whitney. Garabed Kalanjian had 14 points, and Moore finished with 11.
Ricky Ramirez had 17 points for Redwood, and Mikey Montoya added 12.
Redwood 77, Mt. Whitney 36: Corissa Turley and Jasmine Black combined for 11 3-pointers in the Rangers' rout of the Pioneers.
Turley knocked seven treys en route to a game-high 34 points for Redwood (15-4, 5-1). Black scored 19 points, 12 of those coming via 3-pointers. The Rangers will face first-place Hanford on Thursday in Hanford. The Rangers will be looking to snap the Bullpups' 78-game WYL winning streak.
Jesse Lopez had eight points for Mt. Whitney (5-13, 1-5).