Oakland Tech women’s basketball coach Leroy Hurt called his team’s opportunity to win a Division I state title “unprecedented” after he went on the road and defeated No. 1 St. Louis. Mary’s-Stockton on Tuesday night. Not even a herculean 47-point performance from the St. Mary, Jordan Lee, could cripple Oakland Tech.
However, while Hurt used the word “unprecedented” to describe Tech’s appearance in Sacramento, hardly anyone could call it all that surprising.
After all, Hurt’s Bulldogs had spent the previous three tournaments dominating the lower levels of competition.
Tech won Division IV state in 2019, clinched the NorCal Division II championship during the 2020 tournament, which was cut short due to the pandemic, and was crowned state champion in the 2022 Division III bracket.
After wrapping up his 2022 title, Hurt publicly stated his opinion that the Bulldogs should play in Division I, and then booked such perennial powers as Archbishop Mitty, Salesian, Carondelet, San Ramon Valley, Pinewood, and St. Louis. .
“We’ve worked all four years to get here,” said senior Sophia Askew-Gonçalves.
Tech defeated Division I teams Salesian, Carondelet, and Pinewood in the regular season, but lost a few games against St. Louis. Mary’s, which gave the Stockton school the No. 1 seed in the bracket over Tech.
Tech brought a playoff-tested lineup to the NorCal game. Tandem guard Erin Sellers and Mari Somvichian shined in the biggest games, and Nia Hunter, Jada Williams and Jala Williams bring playoff experience as seniors.
If there was any doubt about Tech’s ability to perform at the highest level of competition, those doubts have been erased in the last two weeks. McClatchy-Sacramento, Pinewood and San Ramon Valley were all shipped by double-digit margins.
“If I lose these games, the world is going to be mad because I already won them,” Hurt said after the Pinewood game.
Next up is Santiago-Corona on Friday at 6 pm at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento. Santiago is led by senior McKinley Willardson, who scored 24 in the team’s 52-39 victory over Del Norte-San Diego in the SoCal championship.
“We managed to turn the tide, but it’s the waves that matter, and we’re riding the wave right now,” said Santiago coach Mike Mitchell. told the Press-Companyreferencing the team’s league record of 0-10 in 2016-17.
The teams know each other well, having played a holiday tournament in late December. Tech won 62-57 on a night where eight Tech players scored at least four points.
If Tech can win, it will be the Bulldogs’ first Division I title since current athletic director and former WNBA player Alexis Gray-Lawson led the school to back-to-back championships in 2004-05.
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