Entering the 2018 Oakdale Rotary Club Classic, the Oakdale varsity basketball Mustangs were undefeated. Off to a 12-0 start, the boys then went 1-2 in the 48th annual holiday tournament and placed fourth. Seven schools made the trip for the three day tournament, Buhach Colony, Downey, Grace Davis, Hughson, Delhi, Ripon Christian and Pitman all participated in the tournament in addition to host Oakdale. Downey came away with the championship, defeating Buhach Colony for first place honors.
The Mustangs started the tournament with a 70-55 home win over Grace Davis on Wednesday night, Dec. 26. Freshman guard Kobe Nunes scored 17 of his 32 points in the first half to help lead the squad to victory. Center Sam Medlin scored 12 points, all in the second half, in the win. Also scoring double digits in the opening round win was Jonah Norman. The sophomore guard had 11 points and senior Wyatt Waterworth added nine points.
The Mustangs used a 7-0 run late in the third quarter to help pull away from the Spartans. Late in the fourth quarter, Medlin used his strength and height to his advantage and pulled down an offensive rebound and made the basket on using the glass to go up 64-52. Medlin had four blocks in the game as well.
The following night, the Mustangs took on Buhach Colony. The Mustangs suffered their first loss of the season when the Thunder ousted the Mustangs 89-76. It was a physical game, where the officials blew their whistles early and often. Oakdale trailed 35-28 at the half, and could not overcome the penalties or the Thunder. Nunes led all scorers with 35 points. He scored 28 of his points in the second half. Medlin scored 16 points and Norman added 12.
Friday night, the boys looked to regroup against Pitman. In a tight battle throughout it was the Pride who walked off the court victorious with a 61-58 win. Nunes scored the Mustangs first six points and finished with 25 total. The Mustangs fell behind 16-14 after the first quarter, but Norman scored on a jumper to tie the game in the second quarter. With 35 seconds left in the half, Jeff Crawley stole the ball away and passed it to Nunes for a layup to make the score 23-22 Pitman. The Mustangs tied the score at 24 as Nunes landed a layup as the half came to a close.
Pitman outscored Oakdale 17-16 in the third quarter. Michael Echavarria scored on a layup to bring the score to 45-44 to end the third. In the fourth quarter the game was tied at 47 with six minutes to play; Nunes scored on a three ball with 4:21 left to play to give the Mustangs a 52-50 advantage.
Seconds later, Medlin had a block on the other end of the floor, and Nunes broke free for a fast break layup to go up 54-50. Oakdale built up a 57-51 lead but things unraveled for Oakdale down the stretch. With less than a minute Medlin fouled out with the team clinging to a 57-55 lead. Up 57-56 with just 32 seconds left to play, Pitman stole the ball and scored on the other end to take a 58-57 advantage. The Pride connected on free throws down the stretch to pull off the tournament win.
“It’s tough to finish the tournament with two losses, but on the bright side, we grew as a team,” said Nunes. “This tournament has helped us prepare for league play.”
Oakdale tips off Valley Oak League play on Wednesday, Jan. 2 at home against East Union. The Mustangs will host Manteca on Friday night, Jan. 4. Tipoff for varsity games are scheduled for 7 p.m.