McClatchy High School girls’ basketball victory in the California Interscholastic Federation championship came down to heart and adrenaline and teamwork. Behind them, though, was a dollop of history.
The Lions, who defeated Serra of Gardena 65-61 at Haas Pavilion at Berkeley on Friday, were the first girls team of any sport to win a state championship in the Sacramento City Unified School District. Fans alternately cheered and held their breath in a highly emotional Division I game that spilled into two overtimes.
As the girls prevailed, their backdrop included the legacy of Title IX, the federal law that requires gender equity in sports. As a former star guard in an earlier generation of Title IX beneficiaries, their coach, Jessica Kunisaki, had dreamed of coming back to coach at McClatchy. The girls’ path to victory began when her dream, one that would never have happened in, say, her grandmother’s era, came true.
In Kunisaki’s first year as coach in 2012, the team won 14 games. This season, the Lions won 28, including the championship. “It’s unreal, special,” the coach told The Bee’s Joe Davidson after the game. Noted Destiney Lee, a senior: “Our freshman year, we weren’t even ranked.”
March was Women’s History month, so the team’s joy comes at a particularly sweet time, but it also reminds that this is how evolution happens – with heart and adrenaline and teamwork, and sometimes a little push from society.
Bravas all around, Lions. In more ways than one, yours was a historic victory.