SACRAMENTO -- Windward basketball coach Miguel Villegas had done his best to maintain composure in the interview room at Power Balance Pavilion, answering questions with a stern look while his players smiled and giggled.
After five minutes, he could no longer fight the tears.
Villegas broke down, dedicating the Wildcats' 63-57 victory over Richmond Salesian in the CIF State Boys Division IV championship to Daniel Tan, a former Windward player who died in January of multiple sclerosis. Windward took turns carrying a sewn portrait of Tan, an avid supporter who graduated in 2007. The Wildcats captured their second state title in three years.
"There's nothing that we can't accomplish," Villegas said. "I think these kids definitely did that this year."
Harvard-bound forward Wesley Saunders led the way with 15 points and nine rebounds, but he didn't do it alone. Three other Windward (27-8) players scored in double figures: Nick Stover and Luke Silverman-LLoyd each had 13, Charles Dawson had 12.
The Wildcats' biggest lead was nine, early in the fourth quarter, following an emphatic dunk by Saunders. But he was called for a technical foul after saluting the Windward student section on his way back to the other end. Salesian (26-12) cut the deficit to three, but Stover's three-pointer with 1:23 left gave the Wildcats a nice cushion.
"It was kind of a dagger play," Salesian coach Bill Mellis said.
Windward's zone defense held Salesian to 34-percent shooting (21 for 62), including just five for 22 from beyond the arc. Jabari Bird, one of the top guards in the 2013 class, had a game-high 23 points, but Windward limited 310-pounder Freddie Tagaloa, a highly touted offensive lineman, to just six.
"I thought it was a good zone," Mellis said. "Windward is long, active and able to cover a lot of ground. I also thought they did a good job of taking away our inside game."