Dom Wash left Davis High after his freshman year, wanting to be a part of something new and fresh at Gregori High.
He left for the chance to attend a new school, to have the chance to be in Gregori's first graduating class, and just maybe to have a role in other Jaguar firsts.
On Tuesday night, thanks to Gregori's 72-62 boys' basketball victory over Modesto, Wash got his wish.
The win forged a co-championship between the Jaguars and Johansen in the Modesto Metro Conference the first league title in any boys' team sport at Modesto's newest high school.
"This means a lot because of what we went through last year, starting at the bottom," said Wash, who led Gregori with 19 points. "We worked our way to the top this year and we weren't getting a lot of respect for it, so it means that much more."
Now it's up to the Sac-Joaquin Section seeding committee to show the respect they have for both the Jaguars and the Vikings the two MMC teams that will be moving on to the Division 2 playoffs.
Even that could be a mixed blessing. The schools were ranked No. 15 and No. 16 in the final regular season power ratings released on Feb. 4, and both Gregori (16-10, 11-2) and Johansen (14-13, 10-2) will move up from those positions when the brackets are announced this afternoon.
Seeds in the 11-to-13 range are likely to open the playoffs on the road a week from tonight, while seeds around 14-16 could get home games in Friday's out-bracket play-in games. Either way, the MMC co-champs are securely in the postseason picture, and both will be putting championship banners on the walls of their gyms.
"We talked about filling those blanks about a week ago, about getting a 2013 on that boys' basketball banner," said Jaguars' coach Mike Vander Molen. "At halftime tonight we talked about needing scissors (to cut down the net), and before the first quarter we talked about needing the ladder that was leaning against the wall.
"But we came out a little flat, and I think the team was caught up in the moment. You never know how kids are going to react in those situations."
In the first nine minutes, Modesto (12-14, 7-5 MMC) showed how earlier in the season it handed Gregori one of its two MMC losses. The Panthers' pressure defense forced eight turnovers, and Adam Khattak scored 12 of his game-high 20 points to boost Modesto to a 23-19 lead.
That was Gregori's signal to take control, and all the Jags had to do was take care of the ball. They didn't commit another turnover the rest of the half, and Wash scored eight points during a 16-2 run that allowed Gregori to forge a 37-27 halftime lead.
"We knew Modesto was going to come at us," Vander Molen said. "They play their style and they're long and they try to disrupt everything you do. That's the best we've done in that situation. We've showed our youth in other games. We have only three seniors and only two of them played last year."
The Panthers were able to pull within three points, 49-46, late in the third quarter, but the Jags finished the period with four straight points from the foul line. When junior Todd Stewart (18 points) hit a 3-pointer to start the fourth quarter, Gregori's lead was back to 10 points, 56-46.
The only thing left for the Jags to do was count down the final eight minutes and then start to reflect on an amazing winter season for the entire school, one in which MMC crowns were earned by both boys' and girls' basketball teams in addition to the wrestling team.
"I know that Coach (Dan) Pacheco wanted me to stay at Davis, and we talked about that," Wash said. "But I wanted to be part of the first graduating class here and I was hoping we'd be the first team to put a banner up there and we are. It means a lot to me."
Brian VanderBeek can be reached at (209) 578-2150 or follow him on Twitter, @modestobeek