Antelope has passed plenty of tests en route to the state's longest boys basketball winning streak.
So what's one more, even if it was in Saturday's Sac-Joaquin Section Division II championship game at Power Balance Pavilion?
The Titans lost 6-foot-6 junior Isaiah Ellis, a friendly, mild-mannered teen off the court and fierce defensive force on it, just before halftime on a controversial ejection.
But even without their primary shot blocker and rebounder, the top-seeded Titans defeated seventh-seeded Lodi 77-55 for their 29th consecutive victory.
Antelope (30-1) was poised in the final two quarters against the Flames (23-7) after a chippy first half that included a verbal exchange between Antelope coach Rob Richards and Denny George, the official who eventually removed Ellis.
Ellis picked up a technical foul in the first quarter for throwing an elbow, then drew a second with 1:05 left in the half for allegedly taunting a Lodi player after teammate Gabe Bealer had blocked a shot.
What was said officials wouldn't comment after the game was in dispute. But the second technical not only forced Ellis out of Saturday's game, but under CIF rules, he must sit out the team's first game in the CIF Northern California Regional playoffs.
Antelope plans to appeal, and Richards was quick to defend Ellis.
"All I heard Isaiah say was, 'Great block, Gabe,' " Richards said. "But then the referee tells me (he) saw his mouth moving while he was walking next to the Lodi player. I just don't know how you can make the call standing 30 feet away."
The strong emotions and shock of the ejection dissipated in the second half.
"We just stayed positive," said senior guard Jarvis Watkins. "We knew we had to handle adversity, to just keep coming out and playing hard."
Watkins said the Titans told the teary-eyed Ellis not to worry, that "we're going to get this win for you."
Antelope led 44-28 at halftime and kept the Flames, upset winners over No. 2 Sacramento and No. 3 McNair, at a comfortable distance.
Bealer, a 6-5 junior, finished with a game-high 24 points and 11 rebounds. The senior trio of Watkins, Kei'Shaun Sinclair and Caleb King combined for 38 points, 18 rebounds, 12 assists and six steals. Reserves Derek Denten and Rashard Thornhill contributed valuable minutes.
"We made zero adjustments," Richards said. "Derek and Rashard meshed well with our four starters, and there wasn't any letdown."
Nor were there any nerves.
Watkins said despite the team's long winning streak and growing reputation, the Titans have felt little pressure. Their only loss was Dec. 2 to Franklin of Elk Grove.
Watkins credits the experience of last season's special 27-7 run the first with seniors that included a 61-50 loss to St. Mary's of Stockton in the D-II title game.
"We've been playing together for a long time, since middle school, so it just makes playing the game that much easier," he said.