A lot of the talk on this blog is dedicated to NCS — and rightfully so — but I figured I’d throw out a little discussion on tonight’s OAL championship games. For those that don’t know how the OAL formats things, the top three teams all make the OAL/Oakland Section playoffs. Last night, the No. 2 seed played the No. 3 seed. On the girls side, Skyline withheld a ferocious comeback by McClymonds to win by a point. On the boys side, Oakland outscored Fremont 31-13 in the fourth quarter to earn a 79-72 victory.
Both of those teams advanced to the championship game tonight against the No. 1 seed — Castlemont on the girls side and of course McClymonds on the boys side. The girls game is 5 p.m. at Laney College, with the boys following (listed time is 7 p.m., but it’ll probably be more like 7:30 p.m.) The twist is, those No. 1 seeds must be beaten twice for the other team to take home the trophy. That leaves two “if” games to be played Friday if Skyline beats Castlemont and/or Oakland beat McClymonds tonight. Fortunately, the Oakland Section has two automatic berths to the NorCal playoffs, so all four finalists are in.
Tonight at Laney should be one heck of a scene, in particular for that boys game. The last time Oakland and Mack played, the Wildcats had a chance to score to win it in the final 10 seconds only to see Mack’s Damario Sims nail a 3-pointer at the buzzer to win 54-51. After that game, Oakland’s Damian Lillard guaranteed his team would see Mack again and when I talked to him yesterday he reminded me of that. I’ll have some mixed emotions running tonight while covering that game. As much fun as these OAL games are and as much fun as it would be to see a winner-take-all showdown on Friday, if that happens I won’t get to see it. I’m leaving Thursday to drive down to Bakersfield to cover the CIF State Wrestling Championships. We’ll just see how things go. Both teams’ fans travel well so that Laney gym is going to be rocking. At the end of last night’s game, the Oakland contingent started chanting “We want Mack, we want Mack.” Now they get their chance.
I figure the girls game should be a good one too. While Castlemont has proven to be the class of the league, if Skyline can get another game like last night from Markiell Styles (I think she had 21 points, 16 rebounds), they’ll have a chance to match up with Jeanine Manley, Crystal Whittington, Ebony Richardson and Co. and could force another one on Friday. But Castlemont is tough and no team has really threatened the Knights in OAL play this year, outside of Mack losing by about four or five on the road in the opener. I really think Castlemont has the type of team to win a game or two in NorCals.