Mission High School basketball players are hoping to make history for their team. After beating the first-ranked, private-school opponent St. Ignatius High School on Monday, the team is headed to Fairfield on Saturday aiming to beat third-ranked Vanden High School in the last regional competition.

If they do so, they’ll be headed to the statewide championships, where they’ve never been in the history of the school. Indeed, Mission High wants to be the first San Francisco public high school to earn a state title.

Tuesday’s game, which Mission High won 67-57, was tense. According to the San Francisco Chronicle’s Mitch Stephens, a dunk in the fourth quarter by one of Mission High’s star athletes had the crowd going wild.

“It was epic last night,” said spectator Kathryn Gordon. The house was packed, she said. “Everyone had been waiting a long time for this to happen.”

The Mission Bears celebrate their win. The Mission High School team after their win against St. Ignatius High. Photo by Bruce Hallman

Gordon’s son once coached the team. When he started, she said, it wasn’t a particularly popular job, and the team was in bad shape. Their surge to new heights is thrilling for neighbors and families who support the school.

“It’s our Mission. They were in the gutter 10 years ago,” Gordon said.

The win was hard-fought – though Stephens reported Mission High secured an early lead, St. Ignatius took it back before being overtaken once again by the underdogs.

“We knew they’d come back,” Mission High coach Arnold Zelaya told the Chronicle, “but we knew we’d respond too.”

The playoff game takes place Saturday, March 18 at 7 p.m. at 2951 Markley Ln., Fairfield, CA.