For the second time in three years, the Rosary Academy girls basketball team has won a state championship. The Royals defeated Bishop O’Dowd High School of Oakland 75-58 at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento earlier this month to secure the CIF State Division I title.
There are plenty of differences between this state title and the CIF State Division III championship Rosary head coach Richard Yoon and the Royals won in 2017, starting with the makeup of the team.
With a mix of returning veterans, some transfers and a couple of skilled freshmen, Yoon felt as if this was the most talented group he had ever coached. But his biggest question heading into the season centered around team chemistry.
“I knew that we had talent and that we could score,” said Yoon, who is in his 27th season coaching at Rosary. “What I wasn’t sure about was if they knew each other well enough and trusted each other enough to stop the opposition on defense.”
With their strength of schedule, the Royals got plenty of practice facing top opposition. The challenging contests allowed the players to hone their skills and build their confidence, not only in their defensive play, but in all facets of the game.
Finishing second in the Trinity League behind Mater Dei, the Royals entered into the CIF-SS playoffs in the new Open Division pool-play where they lost three consecutive games to Etiwanda High School, Windward School of Los Angeles and Mater Dei. Having faced some of the toughest competition in the country prepared them as they headed to the Division I bracket for the CIF state tournament as a No. 2 seed.
“You don’t know your weaknesses until you play your Trinity League games,” said Yoon. “Those games prepare you. The coaches and teams are so well prepared that you have to prepare in order to compete…and our play in the Open Division was a great motivator to do well once we were moved to Division I. We felt like we had a good shot. The kids deserved to play at this level and see the success that they had. It capped off a great year.”
Junior guard Kate Goostrey, who was a part of the Royals squad that won the state title in 2017, agreed.
“Every game in the Open Division was a learning experience,” said Goostrey. “Once we all started to come together, we were all focused on the goal of winning.”
Goostrey felt the Royals game versus Mater Dei in Open Division play was a turning point for the team. The 67-57 loss showed them that they could compete at a high level, and it allowed the girls to gain confidence.
Yoon said another key point in Rosary’s championship run was their 40-38 overtime victory against Long Beach Poly in Round II of the state tournament. Having faced the Jackrabbits twice already during the season, the familiarity with their lineup, along with key contributions from Royals players such as center Bryn Bosnanski, helped secure the win.
For the Royals players who were in this high-pressure position for the first time, there was some hesitancy at first. But they looked to veterans, like Goostrey, to lead the way.
“There were some nerves,” said Yoon, “but because they saw our upperclassmen being aggressive, they saw that it was natural, and they followed the play.”
Goostrey reflected on the differences for her personally between the two state title runs. Having won the first as a freshman, she said she has been able to take more time this year to soak in the moment.
“As a freshman, I was wide-eyed,” said Goostrey. “But I was more experienced this time around and enjoyed it a bit more. I’m happy for everyone’s success.”
Goostrey and junior Asia Avinger were both named 1st Team All-Trinity League. Additionally, Avinger was named to the All CIF-SS Open Division Team. She was key for Rosary in the championship game, turning in a performance that included 24 points, three assists, six rebounds, two steals and only one turnover. The 133 combined total points in the game set a new record for a CIF State Division I final.
With this year’s squad comprised primarily of juniors, the Royals are set to return next season with most of their talented roster intact, ready to compete at the highest level.
“Rosary attracts young women who want to challenge themselves to be their best,” said Rosary Athletic Director, Tom Tice. “We see it every day in small ways, and sometimes we’re able to celebrate a team that has a dream season. I had the privilege of seeing the process start in the spring and summer and watched as the team came together through the fall and winter. It was a great pleasure for our entire school community.”