By Madisen Carter
Friday night will be the last time Mari Somvichian steps onto a basketball court as an Oakland Tech Bulldog. She has accomplished so much in her high school career including being a four-year varsity player, taking home three CIF Oakland Section Championships, and earning a State Championship her junior season. Now, she and her team are heading back to the State Championship at Golden 1 Center to bring back another trophy to Oakland.
This season, Oakland Tech was moved up to Division I and has been dominating in the highest division with a 29-5 overall record and with an undefeated 8-0 record. During this season’s playoff run to the State Championship this season, the Bulldogs have defeated six teams including their most recent win against No. 1 ranked St. Mary’s-Stockton on Tuesday. The 82-71 win gave Somvichian and her team the CIF NorCal Championship and the way to the State Championship.
“Last year, our motto was ‘unfinished business.’ I think this year with most of the key players being seniors, you know, we just want to go out with a bang,” Somvichian said. “ I guess our motto [this season] would be leaving our mark, leaving our mark on history, making sure that nobody will ever talk about Oakland Tech Basketball without talking about our team.”
The Bulldogs went into this season with all but two players from last season, and Somvichian said the chemistry with her teammates is what has made the team so successful. From playing against each other growing up, to being middle school rivals, to playing with each other for four years, she said you cannot buy the chemistry they have anywhere else, and the new additions with two freshmen has added on to that camaraderie.
The team heads to Sacramento on Friday to take on the No. 2 ranked Santiago Sharks. The Bulldogs and the Sharks have already met earlier this season in late December, and the Bulldogs defeated the Sharks 62-57. Going into the last game of the season, Somvichian and her team know what to expect, and look to come out of the game with another Championship.
“It's the last game so I think the way I'm looking at it is if it's going to be the last game, it might as well be our last win. I think it would be a shame for us to make it this far, accomplish so much and lose the last game of our high school career,” Somvichian said. “So we're just going to leave it in Sacramento. You know, when the buzzer goes off, there should be nothing left in the tank and when we look up at the scoreboard, it should be a W.”
Somvichian said her ultimate goal in her high school career is to leave a legacy and hang banners in the gym that will last forever. With three CIF NorCal Championship banners and a CIF Division III State Championship banner hanging up, she looks forward to achieving and hanging up that Division I State Championship banner before she graduates.
“Definitely winning state last year [was my favorite high school memory] when the buzzer went off, and we realized that we had really done it. That's a feeling that is truly indescribable [and] honestly, I've been searching for that feeling ever since, and we're going to get that again on Friday,” Somvichian said.
All of us at UPBasketball are so proud of what Somvichian has accomplished so far in her basketball career, and we are fortunate to see all of the hard work and dedication she puts into her game. We wish her good luck on Friday in the State Championship!
Jones posted to her Instagram account on Monday, “Thankful for my years at stanford. Thankful for my people, without you I wouldn't be who I am. Thank you for continuing to keep me grounded and hungry. Ready for the next chapter.”
“First off, it's an honor… [to] go out there and compete in that and then obviously to be my first one as well was really cool. Growing up going to All-Star Games and watching to now [being] a part of it was pretty surreal,” Williams said.