This was why T.J. Wallace transferred to Modesto Christian High.
To play on this stage, with this group of teammates, on the Sac-Joaquin Section's most honored basketball team.
Wallace, who came to the Crusaders from McNair, put his name in MC's archives with 20 points as Modesto Christian defeated Sierra 66-54 for the Crusaders' unprecedented 15th section championship.
Raymond Bowles, who will be joining Wallace at the University of the Pacific in the fall, added 14 points for MC, which will be hoisting a blue title banner for the 13th time in the last 14 seasons.
Sierra, winless in three trips to section title games, got 19 points from Guillermo Nunez and 17 from Emmanuel Elijah.
The game wasn't decided until the fourth quarter, when Modesto Christian was able to fast break at will during a 14-4 run that gave it a 60-43 lead in the final three minutes.
Sierra opened the game by hitting the offensive glass and rode a 10-0 run, with six points on second-chance opportunities, to a 12-8 lead early in the second quarter. The Timberwolves had nine offensive rebounds in the first half.
But as soon as the Crusaders began to control the boards on that end, their fast break started producing. All but two of their points during a 14-2 spurt came in transition, allowing MC to take a 24-17 lead, which Sierra cut to 26-20 at halftime.
One of the interesting man-to-man matchups in the first half was Modesto Christian's Zerrion Payton on Sierra's Nunez.
Payton always has been a solid defensive player through his high school career, and the two players got very familiar with each other during their first two high school seasons, when Payton played at Weston Ranch the Valley Oak League archrival of the Timberwolves.
Nunez picked up two fouls in the game's opening three minutes, but remained in the game through most of the half without further damage. He was held to two points, but Elijah picked up the offensive slack with nine first-half points.
Bowles, quiet in the first half with two points, had eight in the third quarter, after which MC held a 46-39 lead. Nunez finally caught fire in the quarter, scoring six of his nine third-quarter points in a 90-second span with Payton on the bench.
Modesto Christian (27-3) was seeking its first section championship at the Division 3 level.
Eleven of those came consecutively from 2000-10, and the Crusaders started a new streak by beating Ripon 68-46 in last year's Division 4 title game.
MC's previous titles came at the Division 1, 4 and 5 levels. In 2014, if the Crusaders are moved to the Division 1 Modesto Metro Conference, they would be automatically placed in Division 2 for the postseason, giving them a shot at being the first team in the section to win titles at all Divisions 1-5.
Ripon Christian is second on the boys' list with nine blue banners, with the last coming in 1996, the year before Modesto Christian won its first crown.
Sierra came in at 27-4 and was a co-champion of the Valley Oak League with Weston Ranch, which fell to MC in the Division 3 semifinal.
The Timberwolves were attempting to win their first section title in boys' basketball. They lost to Riverbank in the 2001 Division 3 title and to Foothill 74-52 in last year's finale.
Both teams, as well as the teams they defeated in the semifinal rounds, will continue their seasons at the NorCal regional level. Those pairings will be announced Sunday, and Modesto Christian was poised to be placed in the new regional Open Division with a D3 title.
Brian VanderBeek can be reached at (209) 578-2150 or follow him on Twitter, @modestobeek
DIVISION 3 BOYS SAC-JOAQUIN SECTION CHAMPIONSHIP