San Bernardino High School boys basketball coach Darin Graham gives his team the night of and the morning after a big win to celebrate. After Monday’s 79-73 victory over Cajon clinched the Cardinals’ first league championship in 18 years, Graham will give his players the afternoon to celebrate as well.
“In one word, the feeling is great,” Graham said. “This was a long time coming and the mood around campus is something I haven’t seen here in a while. Students, teachers, administrators, everyone is happy and school spirit is as high as it has been in years.”
That school spirit contributed to an electric atmosphere at Cardinal City Arena Monday night, as famed alumni such as Mark Seay and Jack Brown were among the fans attending. Recent Cardinal alumni spearheaded the Gatorade bath of Graham after the victory and helped lead the throng of fans who rushed the floor to celebrate the historic win.
“Everyone who has been in this program can share in this victory,” Graham said. “Cajon has dominated across the board for a long time and for us to get this victory meant so much, from our current players to our former players. They all were a part of what led up to this.”
After losing to the Cardinals 83-57 at Cajon Jan. 19 for their first loss to San Bernardino in 18 years, Cajon came out playing well, leading for most of the first two quarter and only being down 33-32 at halftime. But a 22-13 Cardinal spurt in the third quarter led by seniors Choncey White, who ended with 23 points, and Jeremiah Tardy, who had 17 on the game, gave San Bernardino wiggle room and eventually got the party started.
“We were 12-0 coming in, they were 11-1,” Graham said. “I told our guys that they weren’t going to back down and let us have this, that we had to take it. That’s exactly what we did.”