Make room, Stephen Curry. Excuse me, Buster Posey. Move over, Alexis Gray-Lawson. There’s a new three-time consecutive champion in the Bay, and Charlie Finley isn’t around to blow up this Oakland dynasty.
Oakland Technical High School girls basketball captured its third consecutive state title Friday night at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento–this time in Division 1, where the team knew they belonged–by dominating the fourth quarter of a 75-52 win over Santiago High of Corona.
“It never gets old sitting on this podium,” said Hurt, who last year in the same room lobbied for his team to be placed in Division 1 after having won in Division 4 and Division 3. “Last year I told everyone in this room who was here, we’re a D1 school, we should be in D1. Thank you for putting us there. And I’m so proud of the kids for responding and taking care of business.”
Hurt did more than ask. He scheduled a gauntlet of non-league games this season to prove his point. In fact, Tech had already played each of their five CIF state tournament opponents during the preseason, including beating Santiago 62-57 in late December on a neutral court.
Tech’s senior class (guards Mari Somvichian, Erin Sellers, Jada and Jala Williams, and Nia Hunter, and forward Sophia Askew Goncalves) graduate having never lost a playoff game.
Hunter provided instant offense off the bench Friday with 13 points, including seven points in the first half before Tech’s swarming defense took over late.
“I have no issues putting her in at any moment,” Hurt said of Hunter, often overlooked on such a deep roster. “Last year she kicked the ball to Mari who hit the game-sealing 3 (in the state title game). I’m really so proud. To beat the teams we did twice, it’s amazing. Now we can enjoy it and talk about it. These kids, I’m proud of these guys. We did it.”
Junior wing Taliyah Logwood (16 points, 12 rebounds, three steals) dominated defensively. When Sellers opened the second half with a 3-pointer, Tech’s lead grew to double digits.
“It’s a parade in my city,” Sellers said after closing her prep basketball career.
Freshman frontcourt players Jhai Johnson and Terri’A Russell, who both stand over 6-feet tall, showed why Tech’s dynasty might just withstand the loss of six seniors. Johnson banked in a nifty reverse layup early, and finished with eight rebounds, five steals and two blocked shots. Russell had 15 points and eight rebounds as the duo was too much for Santiago inside.
“I told my graduating class it’s our last game, win or lose,” Somvichian said. “It might as well be our last win and our last championship. Coach Leroy has told us all year to leave our mark. We made history tonight. They said we couldn’t win Division 1. What are they going to say now?”
An incredible winning streak spanning five years
Since a February 2019 loss to Oakland High in the CIF Oakland Section tournament, when this year’s seniors were still attending junior high, Oakland Tech has won an astonishing 25 playoff games in a row. In a 2019 tournament run to the Division 4 title, Tech beat Nevada Union of Grass Valley, Redwood of Larkspur, Silver Creek of San Jose, Menlo of Atherton, and Northview of Covina. In 2020, Tech knocked off Skyline High of Oakland, Oakland High, Saint Francis of Mountain View, American of Fremont, San Joaquin Memorial of Fresno and Clovis of Clovis before the Division 2 title game was canceled, a day before tipoff, by the spreading coronavirus.
Players were left in tears, and when the 2021 postseason was canceled they were forced to wait another year before defending their 2019 title. In 2022, Tech defeated KIPP King of San Lorenzo, Castlemont of Oakland, Homestead of Cupertino, Dixon of Dixon, Priory of Portola Valley, Lincoln of Lincoln and La Salle of Pasadena for a Division 3 title. This season’s Division 1 run included wins over Castlemont, AIMS Charter of Oakland, McClatchy of Sacramento, Pinewood of Los Altos Hills, San Ramon Valley of Danville and St. Mary’s of Stockton (which beat Tech twice by double-digit points in the preseason) before Friday’s victory over Santiago.
“Put some respect on all their names,” Assistant Coach Jasmine Braggs said of her players.
Three state titles in a row—an achievement like few others
Granada High of Livermore fans, whose boys team played in the following D1 championship game Friday evening, joined Oakland Tech fans in chants of “O-T! O-T!” as the final minutes ticked away on another chapter in one of the Bay Area’s wildest dynasty tales.
Curry and the Golden State Warriors won four titles in eight seasons, but never three in a row. In 2017, Golden State went 15-0 during the postseason before losing Game 4 of the NBA Finals to the Cavaliers (Golden State clinched the trophy in Game 5). But that run pales in comparison to Tech’s 25 postseason wins in a row, including a 12-point victory over top-seed St. Mary’s of Stockton in Tuesday’s regional final that avenged two preseason losses to the Rams.
Posey and the San Francisco Giants won three World Series titles in five seasons to ignite the debate of what exactly constitutes a dynasty. Gray-Lawson led Oakland Tech girls basketball to back-to-back Division 1 state titles in 2004 and 2005, but the Bulldogs couldn’t win three in a row following her graduation. McClymonds High football won three state titles from 2016-18, and has now reached a state title game in six consecutive seasons.
You must go back to the 1972-74 Oakland A’s to find a Bay Area professional team that pulled off three titles in a row. But that A’s dynasty, notoriously fractured in the locker room toward the end of 1974, was dismantled when owner Charlie Finley sold his talent before the 1975 season.
“To win last year and add Jhai and Terri’A … hey, it’s the most talented team we’ve had,” said Hurt, who hopes Tech will now be placed in an Open Division tournament that was added this season. “We’re just a tough matchup for (Corona) and a lot of other teams. They don’t have the speed we have. We’re bigger than them. We’re faster than them. We outshot them.”
“I told these kids we deserve to win today,” Hurt said. “Shame on us if we don’t finish it. To win this year. To win last year. To not play in 2021. To make it to the state final in 2020 when the games were canceled. To win in 2019. We’re just on a hell of a run right now. There’s some luck. I think everyone in this room knows you have to be a little lucky.”
“It can’t go on forever,” he said. “But it’s going on today.”
Oakland Tech roster (*1st-team all-OAL; ** 2nd team; *** Honorable mention): Jada Williams, Taliyah Logwood**, Erin Sellers*, Sarai White, Jhai Johnson, Jala Williams, Terri’A Russell, Tiana Grace, Mari Somvichian*, Zhanea Clemons, Jordan Taylor, Nia Hunter*, Natane Chambers-Wright, Marticia Pollard, Sophia Askew Goncalves. Coach: Leroy Hurt.