The Mission High School boys basketball team made history on Friday night becoming the first San Francisco public school to win a state title.  

The 82-75 overtime win in Sacramento against Villa Park High School made the Mission High School Bears the statewide Division 3 champions.

“Oh my god,” said spectator Kathryn Gordon, whose son is a former team coach. “It was intense, it was epic.”

The team made an overtime comeback after their rivals nearly reversed the lead they had built up. But once in overtime, as Mission Bears player Niamey Harris told the San Francisco Examiner, “they still had to deal with us for four more minutes.”

That was all the Bears needed.

The boy’s team has been on a tear since their victory against private St. Ignatius High School. Last weekend they achieved another victory against Vanden High School, securing their regional championship.

“The boys played for each other. They just kept coming back, they just never gave up,” said Gordon.

The Bears in action. Photo by Bruce Hallman

Spectator Bruce Hallman characterized the win as the culmination of a 13-year effort to build the team as well as the greater student body. He applauded the school’s principal for procuring three buses to transport an enthusiastic bunch of Mission High students to cheer on the team, which he speculated probably helped propel them to their victory.

Specific effort, he wrote, has been “focused on the intangible benefits which flow from a sense of pride and belief that great things are within reach.”

The Sacramento game was new territory, but familiar faces abounded. Gordon said Mission High students and alumni packed gymnasium. She even met one student who had graduated from Mission High in 1932. The arena was also a professional one, a new experience for Mission High.

“So the kids had to adjust to the lighting and the spacial experience of it,” Gordon said. “And Mission adjusted.”

“I don’t think the history part has sunk in for them,” Mission High coach Arnold Zelaya told the Examiner. “It will at some point, just like all of the lessons we teach high school kids. They might not understand it now, but this is a forever thing.”

The Mission High School boys basketball team in action. Photo by Bruce Hallman