The Oakland High boys basketball team will play in the Oakland Section championship game for the fourth time in six years after beating visiting Oakland Tech 70-58 in Tuesday's semifinal playoff game.
"This season was definitely a trying season," Wildcats coach Orlando Watkins said. "We had a lot of ups and downs going back to last season dealing with grades and kids not being able to play. This year the kids just came in committed."
Oakland (17-10) will face McClymonds, which beat Skyline in the other semifinal, in the championship game Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at Merritt College. The loser of the title game will play the champion of the Bay Area Charter School Athletic Conference on Saturday at 2 p.m. at Oakland Tech with a berth to the NorCal playoffs on the line.
Oakland Tech (19-9) was looking to reach the championship game for the first time since 2004.
The game was tied after a quarter and remained tied late in the second when the Wildcats went on a 10-0 run to take a 34-24 lead. Oakland held a 37-31 lead at halftime.
The Bulldogs got within 47-43 late in the third, but the Wildcats scored eight straight to end the quarter. Jamaliah Brown had six of those, including a layup at the buzzer to make it 55-43.
Tech scored the first five points of the fourth, but was dealt a blow when Leo Smith picked up his fourth foul. He argued the call and picked up a technical foul, which knocked the first-team All-City pick from the game.
"When Leo picked up that foul, I felt bad for him, but my kids were like, 'Let's pick it up'," Watkins said. "It took us a while to get going, but that ultimately was the separation that won the game for us."
Semaj Horace had 15 points for the Wildcats. Smith led Tech with 16 points.
Oakland Tech 42, Skyline 35: Ameela Li scored 15 points to rally the host Bulldogs (20-5) over the Titans (17-10) in the Oakland Section semifinals.
Skyline took a 23-17 lead in the third quarter of an ugly game to that point. The teams had 15 turnovers apiece in the first half, which ended with the Titans leading 15-12. Oakland Tech made just 1 of 18 shots from the floor in the second quarter.
"We controlled the tempo," Skyline coach Shawn Hipol said. "We didn't want a high-scoring game. It may be ugly, but that's the way we wanted to play tonight."
The Bulldogs then began making plays. Li had a key 3-point play in a five-point run.
London Robinson scored all six of her points in the fourth quarter and Kelea Pickeral-Dennis had the dagger when she rebounded a missed free throw by Nyela Cade and quickly fed Robinson across the key for a basket with 10 seconds left.
Oakland Tech will play McClymonds in the championship game Thursday at Merritt College at 4:30 p.m.
McClymonds beat Oakland 71-43 in the other semifinal.
-- Damin Esper, correspondent