They say two Clarks are better than one, but Oakdale High girls basketball coach Gary Smith is thrilled to at least have at one of them for the second half of Valley Oak League play.
The varsity team, which will finish the season without reigning VOL MVP Cassandra Clark, got her sister, Kelsey Clark, back in the lineup last week for a pair of successful conference bouts and Oakdale’s first win since Jan. 6.
Kelsey Clark, who was nursing an injury she sustained in the preseason, burst onto the VOL court with a pair of terrific games as Oakdale drastically improved its offensive production in back-to-back contests.
She scored 14 in a 41-38 heartbreaking loss to Lathrop on Jan. 25, but added 21 in a thrilling 56-53 overtime win over Kimball on Thursday.
Oakdale scored 31 more points in the last two games with Clark in the lineup than they did in the previous four games without her.
“Obviously getting Kelsey back has certainly helped,” Smith said. “We have been rebounding better, taking care of the ball much better and been seeing some great support off the bench.”
The Kimball game was Oakdale’s second overtime win over the Jaguars this year. It almost ended in painful fashion in regulation, but Clark sank back-to-back free throws with just four seconds to go in the fourth period to force a tie.
In overtime, big Oakdale free throws paved the way for the narrow win.
Blanca Lara scored 21 points on Kimball and the Lady Mustangs saw 14 big rebounds from Jordan Esparza. Clark grabbed 10 rebounds as well, nabbing double-digit boards in consecutive contests since her return. She was also an incredible 15-of-18 from the foul line against Kimball.
Oakdale (7-10 overall, 2-6 VOL) was listed at No. 23 on Monday’s release of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III power ratings and will need a miracle to slip into the top 16 and see a playoff seed.
Manteca (7-1), East Union (6-2), Weston Ranch (6-2) and Sonora (6-2) slugged it out in the first half of VOL action, and are listed top-10 on the ratings.
Oakdale hosted Weston Ranch on Tuesday, though results were not available at press time. The Mustangs are at East Union on Thursday.
The sophomore Mustangs tripled their previous VOL win total with back-to-back wins over Lathrop and Kimball this past week.
Francesca Orvis scored 10 points with six rebounds and five steals in a 34-28 win over Lathrop on Jan. 25. Hanna Holland was 3-of-4 from the foul line and drained another clutch three-pointer to finish with eight points and four assists. Janeth Garcia added six rebounds and four assists in the win.
Oakdale also rallied to a 32-20 win over Kimball on Thursday after a 3-for-4 free throw effort from Garcia (seven points, four rebounds). Orvis tossed in eight points with six rebounds and five steals while Sommer Anderson chipped in five points, five rebounds and two assists.
“We are really starting to play well together and two league wins this week is a great boost for our confidence,” Oakdale coach Heather Brown said. “Hanna Holland is stepping up as our point guard and a leader on the floor.”