SACRAMENTO -- Southern California teams rarely lose in the state Division I boys’ basketball championship game.
It last happened in 1999, which makes the accomplishment of unbeaten Oakland McClymonds all the more memorable.
The Warriors (32-0) outran, outhustled and outplayed Compton Dominguez on Saturday night, pulling away for a 73-54 victory in front of 5,613 at Arco Arena.
It was a fitting send-off for retiring McClymonds Coach Dwight Nathaniel, who has endured a series of family tragedies, from the death of his wife in a 2003 automobile accident to the death of his daughter and granddaughter last year from a collision with a train that authorities ruled a murder-suicide.
“He’s been through a lot,” senior forward Frank Otis said. “We wanted to send him out with a bang. I prayed every night for this.”
The Warriors were in attack mode from the outset, trying to push the ball up court and beat the Dons with aggressive drives.
Guards William Cherry and Demario Sims were the instigators, never backing off. Cherry finished with 19 points and Sims scored 16.
Then there was 6-foot-5 Damon Powell, who contributed 18 points.
The Dons’ standout player, 6-foot-7 Jordan Hamilton, failed to score in the third quarter after contributing 13 first-half points. He didn’t score again until there was 5:48 left to play.
By then, McClymonds led, 57-43. Hamilton finished with 20 points on seven-for-24 shooting.
“They were quick and they came at you in waves,” Dominguez Coach Russell Otis said. “They kicked our tails on the glass.”
This was a much different McClymonds team than the one that shot an embarrassing 22.4% in a 54-29 loss to Los Angeles Fairfax in last year’s Division I final. The Warriors shot 47% this time. Dominguez shot 32%.
Dominguez senior guard Bryce Cartwright picked up three fouls by the second quarter, hurting the Dons’ offensive continuity. Hamilton kept throwing up long-range shots and made only five of 14 in the first half.
It wasn’t just any team McClymonds defeated. Dominguez (32-3) had compiled an impressive resume, including victories over three state champions -- Santa Ana Mater Dei (Division II), Santa Margarita (Division III) and North Hollywood Campbell Hall (Division IV).
“We ran into a better basketball team,” Otis said. “It seemed like they wanted it more. They executed their game plan. They’re one of the tougher teams we’ve played this year. We never got going offensively.”
Two Dons starters and two reserves were disciplined for “internal problems,” Otis said, and it affected the team’s play overall.