First state championship in school history
By Selim Jones
Oakland High’s girls basketball team defeated Kern County’s McFarland High School on Friday, March 8, to win the Division III state championship, the first in school history.
The Wildcats won by a score of 51-35 at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento in the California Interscholastic Federation Division III championship game.
“Winning the state championship was a reflection of our hard work,” said freshman player Aniyah Story. “We worked so hard all season and it finally paid off.”
Three Oakland schools made the state championship in their respective divisions, with Bishop O’Dowd losing the D1 championship and Tech winning the D4 championship in addition to O-High’s win.
Obviously winning a state championship takes something special. According to Coach Orlando Gray, that special something was resolve.
“The commitment they made, just to themselves, was incredible,” said Gray, who has been the girls’ basketball team’s coach for the past eight years. “They knew how much this meant, and committed themselves to getting it.”
When asked to acknowledge one specific moment from the season that stood out to him, Gray pointed to a loss against Berkeley High. “It was a game we should’ve won. So I took out our older players and started giving the younger ones more playing time. That made them mad, and I knew it would. I don’t think we would’ve achieved what we did without that game.”
The girls basketball team achieved not only on the court, but in the classroom. According to baseball coach Harold Jefferson, the girls maintained a 3.6 team GPA.
Oakland’s success attracted a lot of attention and praise, including from Warriors star Steph Curry. “Major congratulations to both the girls teams from Oakland High and Oakland Tech for bringing home the state championships,” said Curry. “There’s a lot of championships going on in Oakland.” He later said that if the Warriors win the championship, he’d like the Oakland High girls’ team to come out to “celebrate together.”
For now, Oakland High’s community will be satisfied with celebrating with themselves over the first state championship in school history.