Oakland high school basketball has a tradition that can only be topped by hoops-crazy places like New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and the state of Indiana. Local players Gary Payton, Jason Kidd, Brian Shaw, and J.R. Rider came through the local high school ranks and moved on to college success and eventual NBA careers. They all attribute their success to Oakland and its tough style of play. Gyms packed with critical spectators are the norm for high school games in Oakland, and last year was a great year for East Bay ball. Such standouts as Ike Counts, Mike Scott, Leon Powe, Ayinda Ubaka, and Darius Parker could be seen playing in the highly competitive Oakland Athletic League. Powe helped lead the Oakland Tech Bulldogs to the 2003 OAL championship and the Northern California Championship before the Bulldogs lost in the state finals to the Westchester Comets out of Los Angeles.
While last year's stars have moved on -- Powe and Ubaka locally with the Cal Bears, Parker at Jackson State University in Mississippi, and Counts and Scott at national junior college basketball powers in Arizona and Texas -- there is a new crop of stars in the OAL. These include high-flying 6-foot-2 guard Derrick Bruce from Fremont High School, 6-foot-9 post man Chris Oakes from Castlemont, 6-foot-4 combo guard Marcus Carson from Oakland High, and Skyline High School's Keena Payton, Gary Payton's younger brother, a deadly sharpshooter who can get to the hoop.
However, no two players reflect the essence of Oakland basketball more than McClymonds' Antonio Kellogg and Oakland Tech's Quentin Thomas. Kellogg is a wiry 6-foot-3 guard who does it all for the Warriors, while Tech's Thomas is a smooth 6-foot-4 senior point guard who likes to pass. Today, these two square off in a marquee game that will determine first place in the OAL and playoff seeding. While McClymonds has been in first place for most of the basketball season under Kellogg's leadership, Thomas' Bulldogs have struggled this year with the loss of Powe and his inside presence. The game should be a high-scoring affair -- Oakland prep basketball at its finest.
On Wednesday: McClymonds at Oakland Tech, 3:45 p.m.; Fremont at Skyline, 5:30 p.m.; and Oakland High at Castlemont, 3:45 p.m. -- Lee Hubbard
Kings 'n' Queens
Olympic downhill gold and silver medalist Tommy Moe will be there. So will Olympic giant slalom bronze medalist Chris Klug of the US and silver alpine snowboard medalist Karine Ruby from France. In fact, sixteen male-female twosomes, including teams from Canada, Austria, Sweden, France, and Germany as well as the US, compete in ski, snowboard, and combined categories to see who's the Jeep King of the Mountain this weekend at Squaw Valley. Walk-ons can register for the qualifier event on Friday, then on Saturday the invited teams compete on the special "Y" course designed to challenge both boarders and skiers, beginning at 10:30 a.m., for $450,000 in cash prizes -- followed by a free music concert. JeepSkiing.com or JeepSnowboarding.com -- Kelly Vance
So you think you're a good bowler? Try going up against the senior citizens in the 22nd annual Rosy Duval Memorial Tournament , Saturday at Albany Bowl (540 San Pablo Ave., Albany). They'll leave you in the gutter. The Valentine's Day tourney -- for four-person men's, women's, and mixed teams -- begins at noon with "Celebrity Squad" bowling MC'd by Red Pfeiffer, followed by lunch, and another squad at 3 p.m. Entry fee is $120 per team (with a limit of 72 teams), benefiting the National Bowling Hall of Fame and Museum. You'll be amazed at the bowling prowess of the octogenarian and nonagenarian Albany regulars -- and Albany Bowl is getting up there, too. It's now celebrating its 54th year. Info: 510-526-8818. -- Kelly Vance
Better than a Caddy
There are hearts, and then there are hearts. Do your ticker some good on Valentine's Day -- and help out the Communications and Human Services Academy at Concord High School -- by competing in the Valentine's Run at Concord High, 4200 Concord Blvd. Both 5K and 10K races begin at 8:30 a.m., and cover a flat, fast surface through neighborhoods around the high school. Trophies, medals, and T-shirts will be awarded in each male and female category. They're more satisfying than a box of chocolates, and running never gave anyone pimples. For more info, check OnYourMarkEvents.com or call On Your Mark at 209-795-7832. -- Kelly Vance