ALAMEDA -- When it comes to state championship game experience, not many boys basketball teams playing at Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento this weekend can top St. Joseph Notre Dame High.
Three Pilots -- Temidayo Yussuf, Marcus Harris and Lamont Banks -- have played in state championship games the past two seasons, and Yussuf, a senior power forward and one of the more dominant inside players in the history of the illustrious program, has played in state title games the past three years.
That experience could play a big role in the CIF Division V state championship game Friday at noon at Sleep Train Arena against Renaissance Academy-Altadena. It's the 10th time a Pilots team will be competing for a CIF title.
"It's your mental outlook before you step on the floor," St. Joseph coach Don Lippi said about the benefit of state championship game experience. "If you are there for the first time, you see this big stadium and you go 'Whoa.' You think about the event, and not the other team."
St. Joseph will be looking to win its first state championship since 2011, and last year's last-second loss by one point to Horizon Christian-San Diego has served as motivation.
"Things happen in life that are not fun. We could have fallen away and had a regular season (this season), or strove to get back to that game," Lippi said. "We strove to get back to that game."
The Pilots (30-5) are 6-0 this season in games decided by two or fewer points, including two games in the North Coast Section playoffs.
"One thing we have learned is that you can't sit on leads ... you have to step on leads ... bounce off of it, like a ball," Lippi said.
"The best way to describe them is purposeful," Renaissance Academy coach Sid Cooke said about St. Joseph. "They seem to know what they want to do as a unit, as a group, more than other teams I've seen."
Renaissance Academy, winner of 12 straight, is making its second-ever appearance in a state championship game after losing in 2008 to Branson-Ross.
The Wildcats (24-7) are led by the inside play of 6-foot-6 Steve Herve and the guard play of Marquise Mosley and 6-6 Marty Gaizauskas.
Lippi said Herve, who was averaging 10 points and nine rebounds per game through Feb. 21, is a "Division I player" and that Renaissance Academy has "really good guards that put a lot of pressure on you. They try to speed things up and make quick plays."
The Long Beach State-bound Yussuf has been dominating this season, averaging 18 points and 16 rebounds a game. He was a first-team All-Tri-County Athletic League-Rock Division selection this season. Banks, who has averaged 12 points and eight rebounds a game this season, was a second-team pick.