Derek Walker grew up around this, going to basketball practices and games, tagging along with his father, Charles, a longtime middle-school coach in Vallejo.
Now Walker has some hardware to signify his own efforts as a coach.
In winning his 200th career game at his alma mater, Walker celebrated Saturday’s CIF State Division IV championship at Golden 1 Center, a 59-46 victory over Helix of the San Diego Section, and he soaked in the significance.
It is the first state title in this sport in the city of Vallejo – ever. The region has produced legendary names such as Dick Bass and C.C.Sabathia at nearby Vallejo High, but these Bruins stand alone, too.
“I’m from Vallejo, and I couldn’t be happier,” Walker said. “It still hasn’t sunk in. The trophy’s right there. I’m still pinching myself.”
There was more despair earlier this month when the Bruins last tasted defeat. They blew a 20-point third-quarter lead against Lick-Wilmerding in the North Coast Section semifinals, losing 71-68 in overtime. St. Pat’s finished the season by going 5-0. Walker won a section title in basketball in 1992 as a St. Pat’s player but appreciates this one much more. And more history: The Bruins won a CIF football state title in the fall and are the only school in California to win two state championships this academic year.
“It’s good to share moments with people you care about,” said St. Pats guard Marquel Johnson, also a football player.
B.J. Standley had 16 points for the Bruins and Tavian Henderson, Johnson and Romeo Mays had 12 each.
Vanden 64, Los Osos 61 – The Vikings stormed back from 17 down in the fourth quarter to stun the Monarchs of Mater Dei in D-II to become the first girls team in Fairfield to win a state title. The Vanden boys in 1986 are the only Fairfield team to win a boys state title.
Houston-bound guard Julia Blackshell-Fair keyed the rally, the senior finishing with 20 points, 21 rebounds and eight assists. Coaches Allison and Jake Johnson, in their 13th year with the program, embraced and cried when the game ended.
“It’s a long time coming,” Allison Johnson said, adding of Blackshell-Fair, “she is one of the most incredibly humble people. She’s the greatest player in Vanden history.”
Clovis West 44, Mitty 40 – The Golden Eagles of Fresno rallied from 9 down in the middle of the fourth quarter to win its first girls Open Division championship in a battle of the nation’s top-ranked teams, according to MaxPreps.com.
Mitty of San Jose, ranked No. 1 coming in, led 37-30 but ran out of steam, much to the delight of a large crowd base for Clovis West, which avenged a 1-point loss to the Monarchs earlier this season.
Sarah Bates scored 12 points to lead Clovis West, in its first state final.
Mitty was in its 12th championship game, having won six titles, all under coach Sue Phillips.