CARLSBAD, CA (KGTV) -- The Sage Creek High School boys varsity basketball team flew under the radar this year.
While the season started off slow, the Bobcats improved as the year went along, and were playing their best basketball as the CIF playoffs approached.
"Our slogan is why not us? Why doesn't anybody choose us," says Bobcats head coach Brandon Dowdy.
The Bobcats embraced the role of the underdog throughout the season, and despite being a seven seed in the playoffs, they managed to win the Division 3 Championship, as well as the state title. Not bad for a team that went 7 and 22 last season.
"We were not expected to win. No one chose us to win. It's just something you really can't put a word on," says coach Dowdy.
Carson Olander, who hit the game-winning shot in the Division 3 Championship game against Hoover says it was really unexpected.
"Just making the playoffs this year was great, but I was not expecting to win it all. This was so awesome."
But while the season ended in celebration, it, unfortunately, didn't start that way. As Junior Andrew Smidt took his own life just prior to the start of the season.
"I don't even know how to put it into words, it was devastating for all of us," says Olander.
Coach Dowdy says this was the first time in his coaching career that he had lost a player. He says as a coach, you go into the season worrying about X's and O's, but then you deal with the grief of a player losing his life.
"You lose a player and then you find out you have a season the week after. It's two different emotions high and low."
Players and coaches say Andrew loved the game of basketball, so the entire season was dedicated to his memory.
"For me personally, as a coach, this season was for Andrew."
"We wore the number 13 warm-ups throughout the year, " says Assistant Coach Max Tinsley, "It really did mean a lot to us, and it was our 13th win that took us to the CIF regional final."
The warm-ups even included the hashtag "Play for Andrew" on the back, as well as across.
Over the last few weeks, the Bobcats were able to celebrate two basketball championships. And as players and coaches jumped up and down in joy, you can bet the spirit of Andrew was right there with them.
"Never won state and never expected to win state," says Dowdy. We did it with a chip on our shoulder, and for a player that we held high. To have his father and mother there, you can't ask for anything better than that."