The Oxnard Santa Clara boys' basketball team has not lost since December, 1988.
That is 44 victories in row, the latest a 91-65 win against Santa Maria St. Joseph in the Southern California State Regional Division IV final.
The key player during Santa Clara's streak has been 6-foot-5 senior guard Shon Tarver.
Last season's State Division IV player of the year, Tarver has been impressive in the playoffs. In averaging over 31 points per game, he has outscored Santa Clara's opponents single-handedly during the first half of nearly every game.
Against St. Joseph, Tarver had 40 points, 15 rebounds, six assists and eight blocked shots.
"I simply think that he is the best high school player in the country," Santa Clara Coach Lou Cvijanovich said. "He has showed it all year and not just in the playoffs."
Tarver, regarded as one of the top prep recruits who is still uncommitted, knows how to take control of a game. Against St. Joseph, he scored 16 points in a 22-2 second-quarter run.
Tarver also has the ability to make teammates better. That also was evident against St. Joseph when his backcourt mate, Bruce Howarth, had 12 first-half points and five assists.
At the conclusion of the Saints' victory Saturday, Tarver patiently signed autographs for children and fellow students, but when he was asked a question by the media he replied: "I am sorry but Coach (Cvijanovich) does not like for us (players) to talk to reporters."
For Cvijanovich's team, this is nothing new.
In 32 years of coaching basketball, he has won 11 Southern Section titles and his rule of restricting interviews with his players has remained constant.
The success of Cvijanovich's system also has been consistent, and this season's team might be his best, considering the way the Saints have breezed through the playoffs.
"This team is very explosive. . . . They can score a lot of points at any time," Cvijanovich said. "I think that we are a good team and that we can play with anybody out there."
Northern California champion Travis AFB Vanden will find out if Cvijanovich is right Friday, when it plays Santa Clara for the State Division IV title at the Oakland Coliseum.
If Long Beach Poly had made free throws in the Division I Regional boys' basketball final at the Sports Arena as it did against Lynwood in the second round, the Jackrabbits would be headed to Oakland instead of Santa Ana Mater Dei.
Against Lynwood on Thursday, Poly made 14 of 17 free throws in the fourth quarter to clinch a 69-59 victory, but it was a different story the next night.
In the final minute of its 46-45 loss to Mater Dei, Poly made only one of four free throws after making seven of 12 earlier in the game.
Mater Dei will try to keep Southern California's eight-game State Division I championship win streak alive against San Francisco Riordan Saturday in Oakland.
Of the 10 Southern California teams that will make the trip to Oakland for the State finals, nine are from the Southern Section, which swept boys' and girls' titles in divisions I through IV. Only in Division V did the Southern Section come up empty, when San Diego Section champion El Cajon Christian won the boys' title.