Over the past few years, the talent on the Bishop O'Dowd High girls basketball team has caught the attention of college coaches from all over the country.
Now four seniors from the defending Division III state champions are officially headed to NCAA Division I programs.
Oderah Chidom, K.C. Waters, Breanna Brown and Ariell Bostick will go in separate directions next year, but signed their letters of intent together in a ceremony at the school on Nov. 14, the first day of the early signing period for all sports except football, soccer, track and field, cross country and men's water polo.
Chidom, a 6-foot-4 forward who is ranked a top-10 recruit by three rating services, is headed to Duke. Brown, also a 6-4 forward, will join her in the Atlantic Coast Conference after she signed with Virginia Tech.
Waters elected to play at Cal, and Bostick will join San Diego State.
"It feels real, now I can actually see myself at the next level," said Chidom, who played for the U.S. under-17 national team over the summer. "It just feels like it's the real deal now. I'm trying to enjoy every moment."
Chidom is part of a recruiting class at Duke that was ranked No. 2 in the nation by Blue Star Report.
Waters, who's 6-2, turned down offers from schools such as Tennessee and Florida to play for Lindsay Gottlieb at Cal. She said ex-Dragons teammate Mikayla Lyles, now at Cal, helped convince her to go to Berkeley.
"I know I made the right decision and to make it official feels great," said Waters, the 2012 East Bay Player of the Year.
Other Bishop O'Dowd athletes who signed letters of intent included Dominic Miroglio (UCLA baseball) and Shea Wales (Fort Lewis women's lacrosse).
Oakland Tech 44, Skyline 36: The Bulldogs faced a crossroads on Nov. 16 in the third quarter of their Oakland Section playoff game against the visiting Titans.
With the game tied at 22, Oakland Tech had a third-and-22 from the Skyline 27. The Titans had the momentum, scoring 15 straight points to tie the game.
But Bulldogs quarterback James Lewis found Michael Adams open over the middle for a 27-yard touchdown pass, and Oakland Tech led the rest of the way.
"I read inside-out, then I saw Mike blow past that linebacker and I got it to him," said Lewis about the touchdown pass, his last pass attempt of the game. "I have a lot of confidence in my wide receivers."
With the victory, Oakland Tech advances to the Silver Bowl. It will be held at 1 p.m. Nov. 23 at Laney College.
Skyline's Kendrick Payne opened the game with an impressive 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. But Oakland Tech (8-3) countered with touchdown drives on its first two possessions, both of which ended on touchdown passes. The second one, a 17-yard reception by Kenyon Jackson was particularly impressive, as he skied above defenders in the end zone for the grab.
Lewis completed nine of his 14 passes for 161 yards and three touchdowns in the game. Skyline's Gabriel Richard rushed for a game-high 146 yards and three touchdowns.
Skyline (6-5) trailed 22-7 with 2 minutes, 57 seconds left in the first half, but worked its way back to a 22-22 tie. One of the touchdowns was a spectacular 56-yard run by Payne in which he scooped up a Skyline fumble and bolted from the right side of the field to the left sideline.
But after Lewis' touchdown pass to Adams, Tech's Nayo Johnson intercepted Richard on the Skyline 38. Six plays later, Erik Thomas scored on a 7-yard run and the point-after-touchdown kick by Zachery Spindle gave the Bulldogs a 37-22 lead with 2:36 left in the third quarter.
Thomas and Jeremiah Varnedoe spearheaded an effective Tech rushing attack with 83 and 82 yards respectively.
Skyline still had a chance to tie the score on its final drive, but it stalled out on the 50 on a fourth-down play.
-- Phil Jensen
El Cerrito 19, Bishop O'Dowd 7: A steady downpour kept both team's offenses neutralized for most of the game but the Gauchos made the most of their chances in the first half en route to a sloppy win over the Dragons in an North Coast Section Division III quarterfinal on Nov. 17 at De Anza High.
The Gauchos (12-0) were fueled by the nifty footwork and steady hands of junior quarterback Keilan Benjamin. He ran for 53 yards on 22 carries and one touchdown and completed five of eight passes for 49 yards.
El Cerrito scored first when Adarius Pickett rumbled in from 30 yards with 8:56 left in the first quarter. BOD answered right back with a 13-yard bolt by Antonio Burnette to take a 7-6 lead with 5:41 left in the quarter.
Fullback Derik Calhoun bulled over from four yards out after an slippery exchange from Benjamin late in the first and Benjamin scampered in on a 9-yard TD run with 8:02 left before intermission.
Miroglio completed 10 of 32 passes for 83 yards and was intercepted once by El Cerrito cornerback Marcellus Pippins.
The Dragons (7-5) had 123 yards rushing on the night.
Bishop O'Dowd lost three fumbles and El Cerrito only lost two fumbles. The Dragons failed to capitalize on either of the Gauchos turnovers and that proved to be critical.
-- Joe Wolfcale, correspondent
NCS championships: A number of local teams and individuals qualified for the California Interscholastic Federation state championships on Nov. 24 at Woodward Park in Fresno. Among the teams that will be competing are Bishop O'Dowd's boys team (Division III), Piedmont's girls team (Division IV) and College Prep's girls team (Division V). Among the local individuals who will be racing are Julian Frost and Graham Dean (Piedmont) in the Division IV boys race, and Julia Cooke and Emily Fieberling (Bishop O'Dowd) in the Division III girls race.
Campolindo d. Bishop O'Dowd: The Cougars let a late lead in game three slip away, let a 2-0 lead in games get away and were forced to a fifth game by Bishop O'Dowd on Nov. 17.
But the host Cougars recovered and found a way to win the North Coast Section Division III title in a wild 25-18, 25-13, 20-25, 21-25, 15-9 victory over the Dragons.
The top-seeded Cougars (27-4) dug themselves into early holes in games one and two. They trailed 10-5 in the first game but rallied. They trailed 11-7 in the second game only to score 18 of the game's final 20 points.
Up 19-15 in the third game, it seemed academic. But the No. 2 Dragons (29-7) came storming back.
Behind Brianna Karsseboom -- who had 13 of her 17 kills after game two -- they scored eight points in a row to turn the 19-15 deficit into a win. The Dragons then pulled away late in game four, and seemed to have all the momentum heading into game five. But Shurtz came up with four of her 22 kills in the fifth game, and Campolindo won its second title in three years.
In the semifinals on Nov. 14, the host Dragons pulled out an incredibly competitive first game and took the wind out of the sails of Albany, the defending NCS and Northern California Division III champions, and posted a 30-28, 25-21, 26-24 win.
No. 3 Albany (34-6) battled back after trailing the entire first game to take leads of 25-24 and 27-26. But No. 2 Bishop O'Dowd righted the ship and took control.
Behind 18 kills from Brianna Karsseboom, who came up with big side-out after side-out, the Dragons controlled game two and wiped away a 15-11 deficit in game three.
-- Matt Smith, correspondent