In the fourth quarter of a chippy, emotional, bite-your-hot-dog-and-you-missed-it final, the jumbotron camera at Golden 1 Center zoomed into Oakland Tech coach LeRoy Hurt’s black sweater.
On the front read a Bulldog-yellow-colored stenciling of the words “Dog Food.” Complete with a picture of a bowl of, yes, dog food.
Absolutely impeccable work by the cameraman. Directly over the next couple of minutes, the Division I girls’ basketball state final between Oakland Tech and Corona Santiago hanging in the balance, the Bulldogs devoured what kibble was left en route to a dominant 75-52 win.
Marching into the postgame news conference, Hurt and his girls delivered an endless stream of quotables: feeling like they should’ve been an Open Division selection in state play, feeling a pride in the city of Oakland, feeling a whole lot of emotions that came out gloriously in smiles and claps and cheering from alumni in the back of the room.
“They don’t have the team speed we have … we’re bigger than them, we’re faster than them, we outshot them,” Hurt said postgame.
Bold. But true in a game where Oakland Tech forced 25 turnovers, simply putting their foot down in that fourth-quarter stretch as the Sharks’ free-flowing offense hit a dam.
By the time bodies started smacking the hardwood unusually hard and stares lingered a few seconds after whistles, it was clear these teams had at least some history, and indeed — slightly unusually for state matchups — they’d already faced each other in a regular-season tournament. In that game, Santiago came back from down double digits before ultimately falling, and brought confidence and resilience into Friday night’s matchup.
Except Oakland Tech had an “ace of spades,” as Hurt put it, in junior forward Taliyah Logwood, who didn’t play in that first matchup.
Logwood was chaos incarnate Friday, the 5-foot-9 forward zipping down the court for coast-to-coast finishes after forcing turnovers. In that fourth quarter, after the convenient “Dog Food” zoom, she spun over her right shoulder for a layup and then rejected a Santiago shot a few seconds later.
Nia Hunter darted in for a layup, and then a second later Erin Sellers ripped a steal and ducked in for a layup, and suddenly Oakland Tech was up 11 and running away to an eventual blowout.
“I just thought we wore them down,” Hurt said. “You saw the steals at the end. I mean, my kids could play another game right now.”
They certainly had the energy postgame, carrying the adrenaline from arena-wide chants of “O-T!” after the win, an Oakland team’s second big win of the night over a Southern California champion after the Oakland High boys beat Buena in the Division III final.
“It’s a parade inside my city,” Sellers said postgame, referencing the cry popularized by the Memphis Grizzlies’ Ja Morant, her teammates roaring behind her.
The Sharks’ McKinley Willardson put up a valiant effort with 21 points and 10 rebounds.
Logwood finished with 16 points, 12 rebounds and three steals for Oakland Tech.