With four Division I signees, some are calling the Bishop O'Dowd of Oakland's girls basketball team the most talented in Northern California history.
Despite that, and even with a No. 3 national ranking by Maxpreps.com, the Dragons entered Saturday night's inaugural CIF State Open Division girls basketball game at Sleep Train Arena as decided underdogs.
Their opponent, Windward of Los Angeles, was ranked No. 2 nationally and unbeaten. The Wildcats also had a 58-43 win over the Dragons Dec. 29 in a Southern California tournament and had beaten O'Dowd the previous season, 65-58, for good measure.
But O'Dowd took what everyone thought would be a down-to-the-wire game and turned it into a 60-45 rout. Up by seven points at the end of the third quarter, the Dragons (30-3) sprinted past a stunned Windward (32-1) 20 to 12 in the final quarter.
Earlier, O'Dowd had runs of 14-3 and 13-0 to open a 27-10 second-quarter lead before Windward had a 12-0 run to close to 27-22 just before the half.
"It started as a game of runs and in that fourth we stepped on the gas and showed no mercy," said 6-foot-4 McDonald's All-American Oderah Chidom, a Duke signee who had nine points and 12 rebounds.
Chidom, who had to sit nearly 12 minutes because of foul trouble, was the only O'Dowd starter not to reach double-figure scoring.
Point guard Ariell Bostick (San Diego State) had 17 points and three assists; 6-2 K.C. Waters (Cal) had 12 points and 20 rebounds; and 6-4 Breanna Brown (Virginia Tech) 10 points and 14 rebounds as the Dragons capture their second consecutive state title after winning last year at D-III.
Windward point guard Jordin Canada, considered one of the nation's top juniors, led her team with 19 points and had seven rebounds. Junior 6-1 post Kristen Simon added 10 points and 13 rebounds before fouling out in the fourth quarter.
O'Dowd outrebounded Windward 61 to 36 and held the Wildcats to 22 percent shooting (14 of 64) from the floor.
"Our speed was neutralized by their physical play on the ball," said first-year Windward coach Vanessa Nygaard, the former Stanford and WNBA player. "We need to shoot well to win."
USC-bound Courtney Jaco, who had 18 points in the previous game against O'Dowd and entered the game having made 142 three-pointers, was held to one and finished with three points on one for 12 shooting from the floor.
O'Dowd coach Malik McCord said in their previous meeting in the Oaks Christian tournament in Thousand Oaks they allowed Windward to make nine threes and also were outrebounded despite their overwhelming height advantage.
"I think that we got to end on a win against someone who beat us twice previously, it feels so much better," Waters said. "If we had lost, I would have had nightmares forever."
The win was special for McCord. He became head coach four years ago when Waters, Chidom, Bostick and Brown were freshmen.
"I started with these kids, so to end it the right way with a championship, it doesn't get any better than this," he said.