AMERICAN CANYON -- Temidayo Yussuf and the St. Joseph Notre Dame High boys basketball team advanced to its fourth straight California Interscholastic Federation Division V state championship game after beating Central Catholic-Modesto 54-42 on March 22 in the Northern Regional final at American Canyon High.
"It feels good," said Yussuf, a senior. "You would think after the fourth one, it's the same feeling, but it feels a little bit better."
The Pilots (30-5) will face Renaissance Academy-La Canada (24-7) in the Division V state championship March 28 at noon at Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento.
On March 22, Yussuf scored 16 points and grabbed 19 rebounds to help St. Joseph Notre Dame, which has now made the state championship game five times in the last six years under coach Don Lippi.
Last year's visit ended up with Horizon Christian-San Diego's Ethan Underwood hitting a 3-pointer at the buzzer to beat St. Joseph Notre Dame 47-46.
Such an ending would be unforgettable enough, but Lippi has a picture of it in his office. A big one. To remind his team what it felt like.
On March 22, the Pilots put together a 20-0 run that lasted most of the second quarter and into the third. Great defense was the key, with St. Joseph using its 2-3 zone to discombobulate the top-seeded Raiders (27-7).
Esteban Lovato also had 16 points for St. Joseph, including hitting eight consecutive free throws in the fourth quarter to put the game away.
Joe Hamilton led the Raiders with 19 points.
In a semifinal game on March 18, the Pilots received 20 points, 10 rebounds and four assists from Yussuf in a 71-51 victory over Brookside Christian-Stockton. Lovato added 10 points, three assists and three steals for St. Joseph Notre Dame.