A dominant second quarter gave Los Banos High’s varsity boys basketball team a three-point lead over Oakdale at the half and momentum for a potential run at the 42nd Annual Oakdale Rotary Classic finals, but Mustang seniors Justin Hernandez and Nathan Van Ryn were not to be denied a championship rematch.
The lanky post players exploded for huge second half efforts to quell the early Los Banos uprising and lead the host Mustangs to a convincing 64-45 victory in the tournament semifinals on Dec. 29. Oakdale faced unbeaten Riverbank on Friday for a rematch of last year’s 60-50 Bruin win in the Rotary Classic finals.
“Everything is going great,” Oakdale coach Jeremy Fields said Friday morning. “We have a really good turnout and a lot of really good teams playing great games.”
Van Ryn scored 14 of his 16 points against Los Banos during a 28-12 Oakdale run in the final period of play. Martinez added 10 second-half rebounds and six of his 16 points in the fourth quarter as well. Oakdale outscored Los Banos by 21 points in the final two periods.
“We’ve tried to compete and get better every day,” Fields said. “We continue to grow and play together and we really did that in the second half of our game against Los Banos.”
Fields said frontcourt play from Marcus Hernandez and Vince Fauria played big roles in controlling a Los Banos team that showed strength at the perimeter with several first-half treys. Marcus and Manny Hernandez each nabbed eight points in the win while Fauria tallied seven. Josh Watts added five points while DeWayne Finney scored four.
The semifinal victory gave Oakdale a third consecutive win since a 4-4 start to the preseason. The Mustangs opened Rotary Classic action with a 67-26 win over Denair after a 36-16 lead at the half and a dominant 21-5 fourth quarter rally from the Mustang bench. Finney scored 16 points in the win while Fauria sunk four three-pointers and ended with 14 points. Martinez and Manny Hernandez each scored eight while Devin Donahue scored 11. Watts (two) and Jaidyn Sheetz (one) also scored.
“Everybody is accepting their roles on this team,” Fields said. “When we are playing together with a lot of communication it is really fun to watch.”
Oakdale’s junior varsity team went 1-1 to tip-off their own tournament bracket. The team blasted past Denair in a 63-29 win on Dec. 28 after 13 points each from Abel Munoz and Kyle Osborn while Archie Archuletta scored 12. The team fell to Hughson in a 52-43 semifinal despite 16 points from Archuletta and 11 from Nick McMurray.