The 45th annual Oakdale Rotary Classic came to a close on Monday night, Dec. 29. The three-day basketball tournament featured eight local schools, including the host school Mustangs. Oakdale’s varsity boys finished the tournament with a record of 1-2. The Mustangs fell to Hughson in the first round Friday night, bounced back to defeat Los Banos on Saturday, and then fell to Grace Davis in the consolation game on Monday night, 71-63.
Oakdale opened the first quarter in the finale as the aggressor when forward Nate Van Cleave knocked down a corner three as he was fouled. Van Cleave, who led the Mustangs in scoring with 21 points, made the free throw completing the four point play to give Oakdale a 7-4 advantage in the early going. Oakdale’s offense hit a wall only making one more field goal throughout the first quarter, as Grace Davis went on an 18-3 run to give the Spartans a 22-10 lead after the first period.
Things didn’t get any easier for the Mustangs in the second quarter, and they went into the half down 43-28.
Oakdale’s offense came alive in the third behind an 11-5 run two minutes into the quarter. Van Cleave brought the deficit down to nine after a fast break layup with 4:55 remaining in the quarter. Grace Davis ended the quarter on a 4-1 run, having a 57-48 lead entering the final quarter.
The Mustangs outscored the Spartans 15-14 in the final quarter but it wasn’t enough for them to win.
“We have to buckle down and play better defense. That’s what we have to improve on moving forward to the regular season,” said senior Shane Baxter in reviewing the effort so far in preseason.
Baxter scored 13 points, including three of five he fired off from three-point range.
Oakdale begins the regular season on the road as they clash with Sierra and Kimball this week. Oakdale’s first regular season home game will be Tuesday, Jan. 13 when they host the Cougars of Weston Ranch.
Oakdale’s JV boys lost their opening round match up against Hughson but then went on to post back-to-back wins over Los Banos and Riverbank, claiming the consolation championship at the annual holiday classic at the high school.