Less than halfway through the California Interscholastic Federation State Basketball Championships, the Oakland Unified School District and Oakland Athletic League had already won the weekend.
The Oakland High boys won their first state title in program history, beating Buena 59-43 for the Division III Championship, and Oakland Tech’s girls followed with a 75-52 victory over Santiago to take the Division I crown.
“It’s a parade in my city,” senior guard Erin Sellers said after scoring 14 points in her final high school game.
By the end of the night, the Bulldogs fans weren’t the only ones doing the school’s “OT” chant. Even the Granada student section, which was waiting for the Matador boys to play in the nightcap, were in on the fun.
“We had the whole gym going,” said Nia Hunter, who scored 13 points off the bench.
While Oakland Tech’s girls ended up with the larger margin of victory among the two OUSD schools, the Wildcat boys were just as dominant. They led 23-13 at halftime despite shooting 32.1% from the field and missing all nine of their 3-point attempts, then blew the game open with a 10-0 run to start the third.
Despite missing a late dunk attempt that would have served as the exclamation point, point guard Money Williams lived up to his name in his final game for the Wildcats. The Montana commit had 22 points and nine rebounds, while Te’Shawn Gamble had nine points, six assists and six steals.
“Outside of Ray Holmes Brown in the early 2000s, nobody plays bigger than Tae,” head coach Orlando Watkins said of Gamble, who’s generously listed at 5-foot-11 yet dunks regularly. “Ray defended Leon Powe. Leon was all of 6-foot-8, 6-9, and Ray was a good 5-9, and he guarded Leon so tough.”
Powe will be remembered as one of the best to ever come through Oakland Tech’s boys program, just as the outgoing seniors will be remembered as some of the best to ever play for Tech’s girls team.
Their class never lost a playoff game. Sellers, Hunter, Sophia Askew-Goncalves, Mari Somvichian and twins Jada and Jala Williams won a Northern California Division II title as freshmen in 2020 before the early stages of the Covid pandemic canceled the state championship. In 2022, they were Division III State Champions, and followed it up by completing the challenge in Division I.
“It never gets old sitting on this podium,” Hurt said. “I told everyone sitting here last year, we’re a D-1 school. We should be in D-1. I’m so proud of the kids for responding and taking care of business.”
Oakland Tech’s bench outscored Santiago’s 32-1, with freshman Terri’A Russell scoring 15 in just 18 minutes to join Hunter in double figures. Junior Taliyah Logwood, a starter, scored a team-high 16 points and led all players with 12 rebounds (seven offensive). In all, Oakland Tech (30-5) forced 25 turnovers and collected 17 steals. Freshman Jhai Johnson, son of San Francisco 49ers backup quarterback and Oakland Tech alum Josh Johnson, had five of those steals to go with her six points and eight rebounds.
“I’m very proud of them,” Sellers said of the freshmen. “They’re always good. They play aggressive.”
Oakland Tech’s boys could have joined the girls had they not lost to Oakland in Tuesday’s Northern California Division III Championship Game before an overflow crowd at Laney College. Despite losing to their rivals, the Bulldog boys were cheering on the Wildcats on Friday, with head coach Karega Hart, a member of the CIF Advisory Committee, accompanying Oakland at the Golden 1 Center.
“As Jimon Campbell said, he wanted to win it for the city of Oakland. Oakland had our back all year long,” Watkins said. “When we traveled to Portland, Oakland people traveled to Portland. When we traveled to Vegas, Oakland people traveled to Vegas. When we went to Fresno, Oakland people went to Fresno.”
Ethan Kassel can be reached at [email protected]