Powe Power 

Prep hoops title within reach

SAT 3/22

Neither Dickie V., The New York Times, nor shady "throwback" jersey dealers made it to any of Oakland Tech's games this season, but in the year that LeBron "King" James radiated star power and brought a national spotlight to high school basketball, it's a good bet Tech coach Hodari McGavlock would take his chances with James' East Bay counterpart -- six-foot-eight wunderkind Leon Powe -- over LeBron, Kobe, Kevin, or any other number of legendary high school phenoms.This Saturday night (8 p.m.) at Arco Arena in Sacramento, Powe -- who has been the major force in Bay Area high school ball -- will close out his stellar prep career with a chance to bring the state title to Oakland Tech for the first time. Last weekend, in a setting more akin to one of James' rolling national coronation tour stops, Tech captured its second consecutive CIF Northern California Division I Championship title with a 60-48 pasting of Valley of Sacramento High School before a throng of 10,117 at Arco. Powe, who averaged 38 points in four postseason games, proved how much of an intimating presence he can bring to the hardwood when he took the opening tip and raced down the court for a soaring, backboard-rattling slam dunk. The Bulldogs went on to a 14-2 run that essentially knocked the stunned hometown favorites out of the game before the fans had a chance to get into the action. Powe finished with a game-high 17 points and 12 rebounds.

This Saturday's state championship game, however, figures to be more of a challenge. For the second straight year, Tech will play Los Angeles' Westchester High School for the state title. Last year, the SoCal squad convincingly beat Oakland Tech 80-75 for the California crown, and the Bulldogs again lost to Westchester in a nonleague game earlier this season. But with maturing junior point guard Quentin Thomas, scorer of fifteen points in the NorCal title game, and fellow starters Maurice Dupree, Maurice Reed, and Tari Johnson playing solid team ball, the Powe-led Tech may be ready to make a powerful statement and make "Third Time Is a Charm" a reality. -- Tony Hayes

SAT 3/22

Take a Hike

Save Mount Diablo and the Mount Diablo Interpretive Association are devoted to educating the public on the need for open spaces and promoting activities on and around the East Bay's highest peak. This weekend, there are no fewer than seven different hikes and related events scheduled. At 10 a.m. Saturday, choose from a trek on Finley Road to Oyster Point Trail, or a "Seeing in the Dark" tour of the Hazel-Atlas sand mine. At 2:30, a five-mile hike follows Lime Ridge. Then on Sunday, there's a waterfall hike (9 a.m.), a waterfalls and wildflowers hike (9:30), a Marsh Creek walk (11 a.m.), and a discussion (12 noon) on Mt. Diablo's geology -- apparently it's still growing. For more details, visit www.savemountdiablo.org -- Kelly Vance

WED 3/19

Down Undah

Golf is not just for deal-making businessmen or baseball players on their days off. A pleasant day on the greensward hitting a little white ball does wonders for the human soul. Just ask Tiger Woods. Or Tim Hudson. Or Adam Sandler.The Course at Wente Vineyards was designed by Greg Norman, and is an eighteen-hole, par-72, daily-fee golf course nestled in the Livermore Valley. Golfers can cavort amid native woodlands, the surrounding vineyards, and rolling grasslands, and now they can book tee times online at www.wentegolf.com. Winter rates are still in effect ($65 Monday through Thursday, $110 Friday and Saturday, $95 Sunday), with afternoon rates of $45 and $65. But hurry -- after April 3 they go up. Fees include cart rental. And after taking your whacks, you can relax in the Grill -- modeled by golf legend Norman after a station house in his native Australia -- with a glass of wine. 925-456-2475. -- By Kelly Vance


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