NEWMAN — Terrance Marin and his Orestimba High School teammates have achieved a level of celebrity usually reserved for football teams on the West Side.
But that's what happens when the local team breaks a championship drought of historic proportion — in this case a 59-year run of championship-free basketball.
And after Orestimba opened the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV playoffs Wednesday night with a 75-68 victory over Summerville, expect Newman to gain a few more purple displays in its downtown store fronts.
"I know we're getting a bigger part of the population in the gym," Marin said. "When I walk downtown people say hello and want to know how we're doing and if we think we're going to Sacramento."
Marin wouldn't be so bold as to give a prediction. The Warriors next need to get past Hughson on Friday, with the winner of that game likely facing top-seeded Colfax for the right to step on the court at ARCO Arena.
There is basketball history in Newman, but you have to search a little to find it.
The school won a section basketball crown in 1928 — back when the ball had laces and there was a jump ball at center court after every made basket. Orestimba also won three straight league titles from 1939-41, and then again in 1948.
But no titles were won in a sequence of moves between the Trans-Valley League and the Southern League, and it took the formation of the Western Athletic Conference last fall for the Warriors to return to the top.
"There's a lot of spirit in the town," said coach Rob Pecot. "You drive through and you see a lot of cars with "WAC Champions" or "Good Luck, Team," and I know those cars don't belong to our players, so that's a show of spirit."
There also is a strong student rooting group called the Purple Zoo. The students stand throughout the game, and on Wednesday they had no option because of the frantic scoring pace.
The Warriors came out gunning and surged to a 45-36 halftime lead behind Shane Sequeira's four 3-pointers.
But Summerville was able to find Orestimba's weakness — a lack of height. The Warriors like to crash the offensive boards, so when the Bears were able to control the rebound the result generally was a long outlet pass to Jakin Laxague (22 points) for an easy layup. J.D. Yeisley added 18 points for the Bears.
"We got a lot in transition, and we also missed a lot of those," said Summerville coach Marlen Ronten, who wrapped up his 34th season as Bears' coach with a 13-15 record. " But Orestimba wasn't missing too many."
The Bears, who never led, cut the margin to three points, 56-53, late in the third quarter. Frankie Velarde hit a 3-pointer with 20 seconds left in the quarter to spark a 15-2 run that gave Orestimba a 71-55 lead with 4:37 remaining.
"We ran and pushed the ball, and so did they," said Marin, who had 15 points to share team scoring honors with Matt Hurts. "We had an off-night on defense but we shot the ball well."
The Warriors will have to do the same on Friday to handle the Huskies, who showed the ability to win in hostile territory with their opening-round win at Mariposa. Orestimba is 25-4 overall and 13-0 at home this season.
"The crowd was held back a little because this was a Wednesday," Pecot said. "But this place will be packed on Friday."