City of champions: Oakland celebrates high school basketball teams

Two Oakland high school basketball teams, Oakland Tech and Oakland High, celebrated a pair of state championships with a parade and ceremony on Sunday. 

The "City of Champions" parade started just past 11:30 a.m. near Fairyland and traveled around Lake Merritt, eventually coming to an end outside City Hall.

Players from both teams rode atop a double-decker bus as cars honked and music blasted.

Players danced and threw beads and candy to those along the Downtown Oakland parade route.  

It was the first title in school history for the Oakland High boys' team while the Oakland Tech girls' team claimed its third in five years.

The celebration was a day both coaches and players alike said they would never forget. 

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A woman holds up a handmade poster celebrating two Oakland high schools winning state championships on April 16, 2023.

For Oakland High School senior Money Williams, it was a testament to everything he's sacrificed and proof that it's never too late to try something new. 

"I was playing football, so I never thought I would win a basketball championship," Williams said with a chuckle. 

He first picked up a basketball just a few years ago during the pandemic. 

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"I live in an apartment and there's a court outside my house, I started shooting around, and I fell in love with it."

Williams said he wasn't necessarily a natural when he first started, though his athleticism and growing an additional three inches during quarantine certainly gave him a boost. 

"So I started dunking at 15 and thought ‘I could go far with this,’" Williams said. 

He recently committed to play Division 1 basketball at Montana State University in the fall. 

Many seniors on the Oakland Tech Girls Basketball Team will also play at the next level when they graduate in just a few months. 

"It’s crazy, it’s literally like a storybook high school career," said Mari Somvichian, Oakland Tech's co-captain. 

Assistant Coach Jasmine Braggs said as she reflects, Sunday was about celebrating a legacy and giving credit where it's due. 

"It shows how important it is for women because they’ve done it three times, the boys, they’re awesome. There’s no disrespect there, but these girls have done it consecutively," Braggs said. "It’s hard to do something consecutively for three years to win. Right, the Warriors ain’t even done that, right?"