The Granada High School boys' varsity basketball team clinched the 2023 northern California Interscholastic Federation basketball championship title after beating Salesian College Preparatory 60-47 on Tuesday.
The NorCal Division I champions from Livermore are set to compete in this Friday's state championship for the first time in the basketball program's history against Southern California regional champions Notre Dame High School from Sherman Oaks.
"The school is really happy for the team, the whole student body is excited about it, our staff is excited about it," Granada principal Clark Conover said. "Our basketball team is made up of a bunch of great kids that work hard and their hard work is paying off."
During Tuesday's win over Salesian at Contra Costa College, the Granada Matadors (26-10 overall, 5-4 in EBAL) dominated the game pretty much from the start, putting up 15 points in the first quarter.
According to MaxPreps -- a platform that extensively covers high school sports and posts gameday coverage on its website -- at least 1,000 people attended the regional playoff game.
Those first-quarter points put Granada 10 points ahead of their opponents from Richmond for most of the first half as Salesian tried to shift the momentum by cutting the deficit by seven points before going into halftime.
Granada, however, came back swinging after halftime with an eight-point run as they worked to retain that lead.
Salesian players quickly tried to shut down Granada's momentum as they nearly tied the game for the first time at 40-39 going into the fourth quarter.
But that didn't last as Granada senior Kevin Grant hit his fourth three-pointer in the game during the start of the fourth and Salesian players continued to get penalties for fouls, which gave the Matadors some quick free throws to re-establish their lead and win the game.
As the Matadors review film and get ready for Friday's big game, Conover and Granada athletic director David Moore say the entire school and surrounding community is buzzing with excitement.
Both said that they have been getting phone calls and emails from students, staff, residents and anyone else connected with the school or community to find out how they can make it to the game on Friday in Sacramento.
According to Conover, the school already has one bus to transport 80 students to the game and even has a waiting list. He is currently still working on getting more buses to transport more people who can't make the drive up on their own.
"There's an interest, they want to come," Conover said. "They want to support the kids and cheer them on."
He and Moore said this was especially true given that this is the first time any team from the basketball program's history has ever made it to the state championship game. Moore added that the last time a basketball team from the school went to the regional championship was about 25 years ago and that it was the first time they won the Northern California title.
"The (East Bay Athletic League) as a whole was just a really strong league and to kind of grind through that season and then go into the postseason and really keep at it, it's really showing their hard work has really paid off," Moore said.
He said that it was also great seeing the team develop their chemistry both on and off the court throughout the season and how that has improved their overall game as they fought during a season where they saw themselves having to rise from the bottom seed several times.
"What's been really cool is to kind of see the team peaking as a team … you can see the kids just really enjoy being around each other and I think that that's really translated into the result," Moore said.
The Division I boys match between Granada and Notre Dame will be on Friday (March 10) at 8 p.m. at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento.