They'd edged out defending champions Dunman Secondary School by one point in the semi-finals of the National Girls' B Division basketball championship.
It looked as if the Nanyang Girls' High School team's dream run was set to continue when they led Anglican High School 48-42 in the fourth quarter of the final at the Jurong East Sports Hall yesterday.
But, in a twist of fate, the Nanyang team were left in agony after Anglican High forward Clarice Tan nailed the second of her two free-throws with three seconds left on the clock.
The final score was 49-48.
Nanyang's coach and teacher-in-charge Toh Lin Sin rued the missed chances in the final quarter, attributing the loss to fatigue and mental stress.
"They were too afraid of losing today," said Toh.
"Their rebounds were not there and there were too many turnovers."
FIGHT TILL THE END
Anglican High captain Navanee, 15, admitted she was "a bit discouraged" after her team trailed in the second and third quarters, but encouragement from coach Tan Boon Sing kept their morale up.
"Coach told us it was only the third quarter, and the match wasn't over yet," said Navanee.
"I knew we couldn't give up and that we had to fight till the end."
On teammate Clarice's winning free-throw in the last moments of the match, Navanee said: "Oh, I knew she would make it." Heroine Clarice, 16, insisted she could not have done it without her teammates.
"I knew everyone had confidence in me, so I couldn't let them down," she said.
Nanyang's Toh expressed confidence her charges will learn from the experience.
"They've had a good season and, hopefully, they will channel that energy to fight back next year," she said. "They're still champions in my heart."
Boys' champions Dunman Secondary also lifted the title dramatically, overcoming a six-point deficit to pip North Vista Secondary 76-74 in the last moments of their final.
Captain Joshua Alas said: "We did a great job, especially in the fourth quarter because we came to our senses then.
"We told ourselves to push and give 100 per cent."
The North Vista side were understandably disappointed, but coach Ong Yao Kwang was heartened by his boys' fighting spirit.
"I'm very proud of them for fighting till the end," said Ong.
"They are a good team and, with more experience on how to handle pressure, they will come back stronger next year."
This article was first published on April 18, 2015.
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