SACRAMENTO, CA – The City of Oakland has a lot to be proud of when it comes to its girls that are basketball-playing student-athletes.
Growing up in Oakland can at times be tough for young people, plus Oakland had a seven-day teacher’s strike and while that made it temporarily tough on the students and student-athletes ability to perform in the classroom, it didn’t have an effect on the girls basketball teams participating in the CIF state championship and what they eventually did on the hardwood in the state capital this weekend. In fact, it turned out to be a bonanza.
It had been 14 years since a girls team from the CIF Oakland Section/Oakland Athletic League won a CIF state championship, but now after Oakland Tech defeated Northview-Covina 55-27 in the Division IV title game on Saturday morning at the Golden 1 Center, the girls from Oakland have now won two in the same season.
The win by Tech (30-6) comes on the heels of the Division III state title-game win by Oakland on Friday.
“We’re doing good things in Oakland. It’s not all bad,” Oakland Tech head coach Leroy Hurt remarked. “Us and Oakland High are bright spots, and even though they beat us three times this season we were here last night. We had to come and watch Oakland High because if they had a number one fan it was us.”
The term “a star is born” couldn’t have been more appropriate than in describing the outing of Stephanie Okowi. The 6-0 junior had a double-double 16 points and 24 rebounds with seven blocked shots.
The 24 rebounds is a new CIF Division IV state championship game record and breaks the previous record of 21 rebounds set by Tracy Morris of Campolindo-Moraga in the 1996 title game. It’s also the No. 2 mark all time for any division behind the 25 rebounds by two previous Ms. Basketball State Player of the Year winners. Two-time Ms. Basketball winner Teri Mann of Pt. Loma (San Diego) did it in her senior year in Division I in 1987, and Erin Buescher of Rincon Valley Christian (Santa Rosa) accomplished the feat in 1997 when she was the Ms. Basketball winner.
Tech got 19 points from Jordan Smith and Tiffany Siu only had six points after struggling from the field but she had 11 rebounds and four assists.
The Northern Regional D4 champion Bulldogs left little doubt as to the outcome early on after jumping out to an 11-2 lead and never looking back. Northview actually outscored Tech by a point in the second quarter to close to 27-16, but from there the Bulldogs really put it away by only giving the Southern Regional champion Vikings a lone basket in the third quarter and it was 43-18 entering the final period.
“We had a game plan and the kids executed it perfectly,” Hurt said.
Just like Oakland High the teacher’s strike almost put a damper on the season.
“We were worried about the strike,” Hurt said. We had a situation where we might not be able to participate. I’m thankful and the girls are thankful to the district and the commissioner and the girls took advantage of the opportunity.
Northview (30-6) got 11 points from Giselle Garcia but only three other girls scored.
“We were a little nervous in the beginning and we didn’t come out like we were supposed to. We just didn’t get it done,” Northview head coach Danny Silva said.
With the state championship Oakland Tech has now won three state championships in three appearances with the two previous titles in 2004 and 2005. Tech also becomes the first Oakland Section/OAL team boys or girls to win three titles and only the second team besides the McClymonds boys to make three appearances.
“Oakland Tech is now 3-0 and state championship games and I didn’t want to be the first one to lose,” Hurt mused.
But what about getting another shot at an Oakland team that beat them by 12 points in their first matchup and then edged them by 1-point and 2-points in the next two meetings.
“Of course we would love to play them one more time,” said senior Tiffany Siu. We were neck and neck with them the last two games. Can we have a Division IV against Division III?”
The Bulldogs can’t get that opportunity this year but with Okowi and all their other top scorer except Siu returning they will get their chances next year when both will be defending state champions.