Stephen Autry promised Gardena Serra coach Dwan Hurt that if the Cavaliers made it to the state finals in Bakersfield, he’d be there to cheer on the team.
Unfortunately, just before the playoffs began, Autry, the father of Serra guard Vaughn Autry, died after complications from leukemia led to heart failure.
Serra is going to Bakersfield, representing Southern California in the Division III title game against Oakland Bishop O’Dowd, and Hurt says he believes Stephen Autry will be there in some form or another.
“He told me he’d be there and I know for sure he’ll be there,” said Hurt, who had his team dress in black uniforms for the Southern California final as a tribute to Autry. “We’re going to see our friend and we’re going to try to win it for him.”
The Cavaliers (34-2) are also trying to make history. A victory would make the school the first to win state titles in football and basketball in the same school year. Serra won the Divison III football title in December.
“I’m a person who likes to go get it,” said forward George Farmer, one of three Cavaliers players who were on the football team. “You saw us go get it in football and we’re going to go get it in basketball. It’s just the desire and the will to win.”
Bishop O’Dowd (30-3) is on a 22-game win streak and is led by 6-foot-8 sophomore forward Brandon Ashley so if Serra is to win its first state title since 1993, the Cavaliers will have to stop him.
O’Dowd lost to Woodland Hills Taft, 53-46, and Price, 62-49, in back-to-back games in late December. Serra lost to Taft, 71-64 on Jan. 30 and defeated Price, 78-75 on Jan. 16.