For the first since 2009 the Oakdale High School girls basketball team reached the playoffs. On Monday night, Feb. 17 the girls traveled to Patterson for a play in game for the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division III tournament. Oakdale entered the playoffs as the number 17 seed and took on the number 16 seed Lady Tigers. The winner of the contest would take on the top seed in the tournament. At the end of the night, it was the home team celebrating on their home court following a 59-35 win.
“It was very gratifying to see my team’s work pay off with their first playoff berth since ’09-’10,” said Oakdale head coach Julie Ford. “They’ve worked very hard to overcome obstacles this season as a team and it was rewarding for them to see their growth as individuals and collectively as a team.”
Oakdale trailed most of the night and trailed by as many as 19 in the first half. At halftime coach Ford delivered a strong message to her team, which was down 34-19.
“I reminded them that this could be their last 16 minutes of the season, so they need to leave it all out on the court, relax and have fun.”
The talk seemed to help as Oakdale worked to battle their way back into the contest, trying to chip away at the lead. At one point in the third, Halena Hill knocked down a long three to cut the lead down to 16 but Patterson finished that quarter on a 5-1 run to go up 42-24. The Tigers jumped out to a 54-29 lead midway through the fourth quarter.
Eight different players scored for Oakdale and Aidyn Hill led the team with 11 points and pulled down six rebounds. Maddy Jones scored seven points and had eight rebounds.
“We (myself and my assistant coach) reminded the girls what an accomplishment it was for them to have reached the playoffs, especially with so many young players and how proud we are of their success,” Ford said. “I told them how proud I am of them, how much I have valued everyone’s presence and contributions on the team, and how grateful I have felt to have been able to coach them this season and how excited I am for summer ball and next season as well.”
With the young core of the team, the future of the program seems promising.
“The future of the program is very bright. Our team had no seniors on the team this year. We started a freshman and two sophomores in our playoff game,” noted Ford. “Next season we get to add back into the mix the players who were hurt including a four year varsity starter. I’m not one who is worried about focusing on reaching playoffs or not each year. My focus is the culture of our team. When you focus on the process, the results take care of themselves.”
That doesn’t mean the team isn’t looking to give themselves every advantage by putting in work during the offseason.
“Of course I’m very competitive and I want to win very badly. However, I want to win the right way; great team work,” Ford explained. “Basketball is so much more than just the on court skills. I am so proud of the growth that the players have shown in things like their maturity, commitment, responsibility, ability to handle adversity, responding to failure and so on.”
Oakdale finished the season with an overall record of 16-13.