Moments after leading Oakland Tech to its third consecutive state title in girls basketball last month, Erin Sellers leaned into the news conference microphone.
“It’s a parade inside my city,” the guard exclaimed, quoting lyrics from rapper NBA YoungBoy.
Sunday’s Parade route
- The teams take off from Children’s Fairyland at 11:30 a.m.
- Next, they travel down Grand Avenue, taking a right on El Embarcadero past the Lakeview Branch Library
- Another right onto Lakeshore
- Merge onto 1st Avenue, then 12th Street, then Lake Merritt Boulevard
- Finally left on 14th Street to Frank Ogawa Plaza for the party
Hours earlier in the same Golden 1 Center media room in Sacramento, Money Williams spoke of inspiring hometown kids after Oakland High captured its first-ever state crown in boys hoops.
“I want the youth to look at this and be like, ‘I can do this,’ said the college-bound guard.
Those prophecies will be realized Sunday when Oakland honors its title teams with a downtown parade and rally.
Beginning at 11:30 a.m. at Children’s Fairyland, the parade is scheduled to go east around Lake Merritt starting on Grand Avenue, taking a right on El Embarcadero past the Lakeview Branch Library, another right onto Lakeshore which merges into 1st Avenue, then 12th Street, then Lake Merritt Boulevard, and finally left on 14th Street to Frank Ogawa Plaza, where a rally with live music, food trucks, and prizes will be held until 3 p.m.
The two teams will ride together Sunday, but the schools took vastly different routes to their state crowns.
After Tech won a Division 3 title in 2022, backing up a Division 4 crown in 2019 (the pandemic canceled the 2020 state title game and 2021 postseason), coach Leroy Hurt called on the California Interscholastic Federation to elevate his team to the tougher Division 1 bracket. Hurt got his wish. The Bulldogs rolled through the elevated bracket in March, capped with a blowout win over Santiago High School of Corona for the school’s third consecutive state title.
Tech’s seniors never lost a CIF postseason game, winning two state crowns and three Northern California titles. Overall, Tech girls have won 25 consecutive postseason games, a streak dating to 2019, when this year’s senior class was in middle school. Earlier this week, Sellers committed to play college basketball at Alaska-Anchorage, and Mari Somvichian to Loyola Marymount.
Oakland High’s path to glory was less predictable. The team lost two heartbreakers to Tech during Oakland Athletic League play, and a third in the Oakland Section championship game. The section defeat prompted head coach Orlando Watkins to call out his team’s toughness.
Oakland High responded by rolling through the Division 3 state tournament bracket, leading to a fourth matchup against Tech–this time with a state championship game berth on the line. Before a packed Laney College gymnasium, Oakland High overcame its rival when it mattered most. The all-Oakland state semifinal likely determined the state champion, it turns out, as three days later Oakland High overwhelmed Buena High School of Ventura in the title game.
Oakland Tech and Oakland High players have since appeared on local news; met with basketball legend and civil rights activist Kareem Abdul-Jabbar; and gained new social media followers while sharing a unique place in Oakland’s basketball hoops history.
Damian Lillard, the NBA All-Star and 2008 Oakland High graduate, gave the Wildcats a virtual pep talk before their state title game. For all of its boys hoops talent, Oakland High had never previously advanced past the Northern California semifinals. Tech, on the other hand, has now won five titles in the past 20 years, but this was the school’s first in Division 1 since 2004 and 2005 crowns with future WNBA guard Alexis Gray-Lawson (now the school’s athletic director).
With the Raiders in Las Vegas, the Warriors across the bay, and the A’s in the American League West basement with sights set on Las Vegas, opportunities to celebrate a hometown championship team are fleeting. Tech and Oakland High previously shared a downtown parade in 2019 after each winning girls basketball state titles (Oakland High in Division 3). However, there was no parade after Tech won last season, so Sunday’s celebration will be a first for these players.