THE PRICE OF VICTORY is more than just a catchy saying for the McClymonds High boys basketball team.

The Warriors, winners of 61 of their past 62 games, will face Westchester-Los Angeles at 8 p.m. Saturday in search of their second straight California Interscholastic Federation Division I state championship.

In a week usually reserved for preparation and celebration, Mack is broke.

"The economy is terrible and, of course, the public schools don't have any money," Warriors coach Brandon Brooks said.

Brooks would like to take his squad from West Oakland to Sacramento on Friday, set them up in a hotel, feed them and go out and bring home another state title. But after paying out-of-pocket expenses all season long, he just can't do it anymore.

"That's what I've been doing all year," he said. "I'm broke."

It's a situation that's enough to bring down even the most successful programs — a description that certainly fits Mack.

"It's amazing. You've got a great product, but the reality is that there's no money," Brooks said. "That's why it's so hard to keep good coaches around. Every year, you think, 'I have to raise this money again so we can have a successful year.' "

The CIF helps offset costs for teams traveling to state events, but its general rule for reimbursing teams that stay overnight is for teams traveling more than 150 miles. A trip from McClymonds to Arco Arena is about 85 miles. Not a marathon drive, but Brooks would like the advantage of the extra day in town.

"To go up and stay in a hotel room that night, at least I have (the players) all with me," Brooks said. "We can have a different experience. I'd like to stay up there Friday night and if I can raise enough money, stay Friday and Saturday."

Anyone interesting in assisting McClymonds can contact Brooks at 510-575-4745.

SOAP OPERA SATURDAY: There were four games involving Alameda County teams in the CIF NorCal finals Saturday and combined, there was enough drama to fill a year's worth of soap operas.

St. Joseph Notre Dame's 42-40 win over Branson in Division V boys may go down as one of the greatest games in NorCal finals history. A 23-2 run to rally from a 19-point deficit with three minutes left is stuff usually reserved for Hollywood. Be sure to check out video of Jacari Whitfield's game-winning shot and the ensuing celebration at www.insidebayarea.com.

Mack's 46-43 win over Monte Vista had everyone holding their breath at the end when the Mustangs' Zach Ertz fired up a long 3-point attempt at the buzzer. It was on line before it hit the back of the rim.

"I thought it was good," Ertz said. "I am not a good 3-point shooter, but I thought it was going in when I let it go. It was just crushing to have it hit the back rim like that."

St. Mary's dream of sending both teams to the Division IV state finals had a heart-breaking end. Sonia Aguilar delivered with a 3-pointer at the end of regulation to lift the Panthers girls team to overtime, but that only extended the season four more minutes as Modesto Christian won 62-57.

It probably doesn't ease the pain for the St. Mary's girls, but a season in which it won its first Bay Shore Athletic League and North Coast Section titles should be viewed only as a success.

The St. Mary's boys will be happy to not see a Salesian uniform for a long time after their fourth loss this season to the Pride, 56-52, ended their season.

The Panthers are one of the best teams in the area, so any team that beat them four times has pulled off one heck of a feat.

Contact Jimmy Durkin at jdurkin@bayareanewsgroup.com.