NORMAN — One of the first people to greet Star Spencer coach Patrick Cudjoe after his team's 67-61 win over McGuinness for the Class 4A state championship was Star Spencer girls coach Janith Johnson.
With tears streaming down both of their cheeks, Johnson clutched Cudjoe close and whispered into his ear.
“She said she was so proud of me,” Cudjoe said. “When we watched her team win it last year, she told me just to be patient and I'd get mine. She's been an incredible mentor to me.”
For Star Spencer, it was the eighth state title in school history but the first since 1996. The Bobcats also won in 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1983 and 1988. It spoiled the Irish's bid for a fourth consecutive Class 4A title.
It wasn't easy for the Bobcats, who looked like the team to beat in 4A for almost all of the regular season.
Star Spencer lost to Bethany in overtime in the area tournament and then needed a last-second 3-pointer by Paul Campbell in the area consolation just to make the state tournament.
But, going through the toughest road to the championship, the Bobcats reasserted themselves in the tournament which culminated Saturday at Lloyd Noble Center.
“We've been, a lot of us, working together since sixth grade to get here,” Star Spencer's Deontae Thomas said. “It's big. It's been a blessing to be around this group of guys and to be able to accomplish this.”
Against McGuinness like it had been in the first two games of the tournament, it was Thomas who seemed to always come through in the clutch.
The junior who comes off the bench hit four 3-pointers and finished tied for a team high with 13 points.