A valiant fourth-quarter comeback nearly closed the gap, but Oakdale High’s varsity girls basketball team (4-8) slipped to a 41-36 defeat to talented Hilmar (11-2) in the third-place game of the Ripon Christian Tournament on Dec. 29. Oakdale beat Delhi in the tourney opener, but dropped their next two contests to Hughson and Hilmar. The Lady Mustangs were forced to finish tournament action without starting point guard Blanca Lara, who spent her New Year’s holiday in Mexico. With Lara absent from the lineup, Oakdale struggled against Hilmar’s full-court press that gave the Yellowjackets a 17-6 advantage in the second period. Oakdale fired back with a 17-8 run in the fourth quarter, but couldn’t erase the early deficit.
“We were making a run on them, but just kind of ran out of time,” Oakdale coach Justin Schwitters said. “They pressed us and we had a tough time of it without Blanca in there. When you lose your point guard and ball handler, other people have to fill those roles.”
Ashley Edwards paced Oakdale with 21 points in the loss. McKenzie Ruthman added seven points while Kylie Gust scored six. Oakdale was reeling from a 46-18 loss to perennial Division V power, Hughson, in the tournament semifinals. Hughson jumped ahead 16-3 after a period and outscored Oakdale 8-1 in the final quarter to close strong. Lara led Oakdale with nine points while Edwards (four), Gust (three) and Francesca Orvis (two) also found the bottom of the net.
Oakdale had opened the tournament on a high note with a 67-28 shellacking of Delhi on Dec. 27. Nine Oakdale players scored in the win, and Lara led Oakdale with 16 points. Edwards tallied 14 points while Ruthman and Jordan Esparza each managed an eight-point effort. Janny Garcia (six points), Gust (five), Katie Rogers (four), Emma Andreini (four) and Korinna Nordmeyer (two) also joined the scoring parade.
Oakdale opens Valley Oak League play today, Jan. 4, against Weston Ranch (8-2). The Cougars are one of five VOL teams with nonleague records that sport five or more wins than losses. Oakdale’s 4-8 romp through the preseason stayed consistent with victories over every team they faced with a losing record and losses to every team with a winning record.
“We beat the teams we should have and we had some close calls with some other teams,” Schwitters said. “We definitely scheduled up and challenged ourselves.”
Oakdale’s junior varsity team improved to 10-3 with a 36-24 win over Summerville on Dec. 28.