Ahmaree Muhammad was the first player to dive for the loose ball as the final seconds ticked away in the CIF Oakland Section boys basketball title game Feb. 25 at Fremont High School.
Oakland High School’s Anthony Lacy then ripped the ball from the Oakland Tech point guard’s grasp. Oakland High’s Jimon Campbell and Tech’s Asher Kramer piled on after that. By the time the buzzer sounded on Tech’s 53-50 victory, players sprawled on each other at center court—a fitting end (or so we thought) to a season series that left three packed Oakland gyms wanting more.
Now they’ll get it. And Oakland will need a bigger gym to accommodate the expected crowd of students, parents, teachers, and fans from the broader community eager to see a top-notch high school basketball title game.
With both teams advancing through the CIF Regional Division III bracket, Oakland High and Tech will meet a fourth time (7 p.m. Tuesday at Laney College) in the Division III regional title game. The winner advances to the Division III state championship game Friday in Sacramento.
Tickets for the game, expected to sell out quickly, can be purchased on gofan.co.
Laney College’s gymnasium capacity tops out around 2,500 fans, according to CIF Oakland Section Commissioner Franky Navarro, allowing more fans to watch the Oakland Athletic League rivals play, but effectively taking away the home-court advantage Tech earned with its higher seed. In the end, the decision was made in the best interest of the league and its fans.
It’s the first time two Oakland schools have played for a Northern California title in any division, boys or girls, since the California Interscholastic Federation changed to a state tournament format in 1981. Oakland Tech boys haven’t reached a state title game since losing back-to-back Division I titles in 2002 and 2003. Oakland High has never reached a boys state title game.
The Tech-Oakland High winner will face the Southern California Division III champion (Culver City High vs. Buena High of Ventura) at 4 p.m. Friday at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento.
The Oakland High-Oakland Tech season series opened Jan. 20 at Tech, after a star-studded Hall of Fame ceremony on the Broadway campus. With the gym buzzing and Marshawn Lynch gigging, Oakland High star player Money Williams calmly sank two free throws with one second left to force overtime. But Omar Staples Jr. was too much in the end, and Tech prevailed 81-79.
On February 8 at Oakland High, Tech needed a victory to secure the outright Oakland Athletic League title. With Oakland High leading by one point and seconds remaining, Muhammad shook his defender and sank the game-deciding jumper (plus the foul) in a 61-59 Tech win.
In the section title game on Fremont High’s neutral court, Staples again overpowered Oakland High defenders down the stretch and ArDarius Gates hit two clutch free throws to put Tech ahead 53-50. Oakland High’s inbounds pass was knocked away and both teams hit the deck as time expired.
When Oakland High and Oakland Tech were placed in the Division III state tournament bracket (Tech as the No. 3 seed and Oakland High as the No. 9 seed), another rematch became possible. Each team needed three wins to meet in the Northern California title game.
In first-round play last Tuesday, Oakland High trekked 150 miles, past Sacramento, to thump Ponderosa High in Shingle Springs. When top seed Las Lomas was upset by No. 16 Carlmont of Belmont, Oakland High suddenly had a second-round home game against the lowest seed in the bracket. Meanwhile, Oakland Tech comfortably defeated Urban High of San Francisco.
In the second round Thursday, Muhammad scored 15 of his 33 points during a jaw-dropping fourth quarter as Tech edged visiting Lincoln High of San Francisco. That night, Williams led Oakland High with 24 points to beat visiting Carlmont. And on Saturday, Tech defeated visiting Justin-Siena High of Napa and Oakland High topped The King’s Academy in Sunnyvale.
And the rematch was on.
Follow the official social media accounts of the CIF Oakland Section–Twitter handle is @OALathletics and Instagram handle is @CIF_Oakland_Section–for results and highlights following the game. Nick Lozito will provide coverage for The Oaklandside.