Madeline Campbell and her fellow Del Oro High School pals have ambitious plans Saturday.
There's a championship to win at Power Balance Pavilion, then the junior prom to attend later that evening at Folsom Community Center.
If it all plays out perfectly, Campbell expects the momentum of a showdown against St. Mary's of Stockton for the CIF Northern California Regional Division II crown to carry well into the night. The Golden Eagles aim to barge into the prom, bearing hardware and broad grins.
"We're going to crash the party in our uniforms," the senior forward said.
Campbell, also the senior class president, hopes to order up a DJ request, too Kool & the Gang's "Celebration."
Bonded by teamwork and a best-friend unity, Del Oro is an example of old-school pride. The Golden Eagles (27-4) are fueled by their student body on the 52-year old campus, supportive teachers and a loyal Loomis town following.
St. Mary's was the last team to defeat Del Oro, topping the Golden Eagles 70-65 March 5 in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II title game. Campbell said then her team would return to the NBA arena with a vengeance, adding, "I feel sorry for the next team we play."
Del Oro crushed Chico 68-37 in its NorCal opener and defeated Presentation of San Jose 63-59 in overtime in a semifinal Saturday.
The Golden Eagles present myriad matchup problems because all five starters can handle the ball, pass, shoot and defend. What binds them is mutual appreciation.
"We're the best of friends and we play like it," Campbell said.
Campbell and fellow senior starters Becky Duncan, Belle Obert and Crystal Sewell and key reserve Taylor Donnot have known each other since they were 11. The fifth starter is sophomore forward Brianna Ruiz.
The starters, all of whom boast 4.0 or better grade-point averages, credit their parents and longtime coach Mike Takayama for instilling work ethic and pride. Takayama, a financial planner who has coached at Del Oro since 1986, has produced a dynasty of sorts. The one missing element is a NorCal title.
"To play for coach Taka is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and we appreciate him so much that we never want to let him down," Obert said.
Said Takayama about his team: "Very special group. They're the best students on campus, the best athletes on campus, the best competitors on campus."
Del Oro is "a great, great team," El Camino coach Bill Baxter said.
For seniors, the quest to be the best started in sixth grade. There were games and wins against boys teams in pickup games.
Duncan is the poised point guard, a soccer player at heart who may continue to play that sport at UC Davis. She wants to study medicine. Her father, Dave, is a doctor and her mother, Patty, is a nurse.
Obert is a gritty forward with a soft shooting touch who plans to go to Butler to play volleyball on scholarship. Her father, David, a computer marketer, swam competitively at Pomona College. Her mother, Kristin, is an equine veterinarian.
Sewell, a forward, is the group's heart. She wants to major in global studies in college. Her father, David, is a contractor and her mother, Ellie, is a mail carrier, "so I know hard work," Sewell said.
Campbell, the team star, talks more about her teammates than herself. Headed to UC Santa Barbara on scholarship, Campbell leads the team in scoring (15.2 points a game), followed by Ruiz (12.1), Sewell (11.3) and Obert (9.3). Campbell scored 13 of her 18 points in the fourth quarter to spark a rally at Presentation.
Campbell's parents are sure to be among the throng from Loomis that will invade Power Balance with "Back in Black and Gold" T-shirts. Dad Mark is a lawyer and mother Jennifer is a teacher.
Campbell wants to major in anthropology studies, but she's not in a hurry to enter college.
"I'm not ready to leave Del Oro yet," she said. "We still want to do more."