Call it a win for the little guys (and gals).
For years, some of the boys and girls basketball teams from the smallest high schools in the Sac-Joaquin Section weren't quite strong enough to outmuscle higher-enrollment heavyweights in Division V.
So this year, a D-VI was created for schools with fewer than 150 students.
It proved a hit Thursday at Galt High School.
There were energetic crowds and boisterous student rooting sections; dazzling performers and, in the girls opener between top-seeded Victory Christian and No. 2 Wilton Christian, a competitive battle between two teams that had not won a section championship.
Playing in their first section championship game, the Victory Christian girls outscored Wilton Christian 14-4 in the fourth quarter to defeat the Patriots 45-37, setting off a wild and crushing on-court celebration matching anything seen in larger-division finals.
Steady and heady Molly Huffman, a 5-foot-9 junior guard who can play at any level, led Victory Christian (20-6) with 18 points, including eight in the fourth quarter.
Senior Kendra Jeffcott, a 6-1 forward, led Wilton Christian (18-5) with 24 points, 18 rebounds and eight blocks.
In the boys nightcap, the Victory Christian (20-5) senior trio of Robby Maxey, Clayton Coppernoll and Blake Owen capped brilliant three-year varsity careers by combining for 38 points in the top-seeded Vikings' 65-46 win over No. 2 Sacramento Adventist (14-9).
Before the season, Victory Christian, a Carmichael school of 120 students, and Wilton Christian, a school of 29, had to decide whether to opt up into Division V, where the section semifinalists qualify for the CIF Northern California Regionals and play for a section championship banner at Power Balance Pavilion.
Both schools decided to stay in the new division, especially with D-V expanding to include schools with enrollments of up to 500.
"This is where we should be," said Tim Smithers, the Victory Christian girls coach and athletic director. "This levels the playing field and gives us a shot."
Despite its small enrollment, Wilton Christian reached the D-V final in 2008 and 2009, only to lose to Bradshaw Christian (now in D-IV). But 17-year coach Kirt Duncan said D-VI is the better fit.
"With 29 students, it gives us a chance to be competitive, especially with D-V now at 500 kids," Duncan said.
Smithers said the the players were the toughest to convince. The Victory Christian boys won the D-V section title in 2010 and had another strong team this season.
"The kids back in September wanted (D-V), especially the boys," Smithers said. "But once they got through the emotional part, they started saying, 'You're right.' "
Duncan said playing at Galt also made more sense, despite Power Balance's allure.
"I like the atmosphere here," Duncan said. "We had 300 to 400 people in the gym tonight. That would be like a drop in the ocean at Power Balance."